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- Carson Derrow
Topgolf Franchise Cost: Everything You Need to Know

Golfing is one luxury sport that will never go out of the market. It’s a leisure game and a professional extravaganza as well. However, keeping the prospect of the sport aside, if you are an entrepreneur looking to make a big breakthrough with your investments, a Topgolf franchise can do a lot more for you than you expect.

Not only do you get to place down an establishment, but you also get to generate a string of passive income from a single investment. Granted, it’s not a cheap investment but one that will bring you a steady source of income without any compromise.

This article will explore everything you need to know about the Topgolf Franchise, the costs involved, and the profits you can earn from the establishment.

Also Read – 6 Tips on Choosing the Best Franchise Industry For You

About Topgolf Franchise  Topgolf Franchise

Topgolf International is a leading establishment in sports entertainment. The best thing about a Topgolf franchise is that they do much more than just entertain their guests with golf.

Potential customers also use the establishment to host events, parties, and get-togethers to spend some amazing time with their loved ones. The brand was founded in 2000 and is now spread across multiple countries and continents.

Despite being founded in 2000, the first Topgolf Franchise didn’t come into being until 2005. Till now, around 64 Topgolf franchises have been open across the world.

Also, since Topgolf is an already successful and proven business model, it isn’t surprising that budding entrepreneurs are exploring the franchise option. However, with guaranteed profits, the initial investment seems like a step in the right direction.

Unlike most other entertainment establishments, Topgolf International focuses on innovation and diversity. It allows you to work around a famous brand while extrapolating things with maximum support and training programs for the staff.

Also Read – 10 Best Bubble Tea Franchise To Start Your Own Business

How to Open Topgolf Franchise?

Opening a Topgolf franchise isn’t as complicated as you think. The steps are straightforward and allow you to generate a quick return on investment after the process is finalized.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the process of opening a Topgolf franchise:

1. Sort out the Capital

Opening a Topgolf franchise isn’t a cheap affair. To open and run the establishment full-fledged, you need an average initial investment of $18 million. So, even before you apply for the franchise, this is a marker you have to cross-check.

2. Focus on the Accessory Cost

So, now that you have sorted out the initial cost of opening a Topgolf franchise, the next thing is to consider the accessory costs. This includes the real-estate costs, equipment, signs, banners, marketing, permits, uniforms, employment, etc. These are all the additional expenses you must also keep in mind.

3. Assess the Market

Topgolf International is a popular and profitable business model. However, you need to gauge the market for it. Where do you play to start the franchise? Is there another Topgolf franchise nearby? Is there a demand for the kind of services and sports entertainment the establishment offers? You need to keep these in mind before you apply for the franchise.

Also Read – Krispy Kreme Franchise : How To Open, Cost & More

4. Submit the Application

Once you tick off all the markers from pointers 1-3, the penultimate step is to go forward and submit the application. The franchise team will check through the documents and verify your financial status to check your eligibility. Also, Topgolf’s team will send you a confirmation email upon receiving your application for the franchise.

5. Receive Approval and Kickstart

The last step is to wait for approval patiently. The franchise team at Topgolf will do a thorough background and verification check. You should get the approval if you stand out on all the eligibility grounds. Following that, you need to complete the formalities and then get started with the franchise.

Also Read – How Much Does It Cost to Start a Crumbl Cookie Franchise?

How Much Does a Topgolf Franchise Cost?

We touched on this subject lightly in the previous section. However, starting a Topgolf International franchise isn’t a small investment.

Depending on the country, state, real-estate demands, market demands, etc., Topgolf will charge between $15 million to $50 million.

The involved cost for the royalty fees, initial franchise establishment, liquid cash requirements, etc., should be submitted to Topgolf Entertainment Group, who then go ahead to provide the license and permit for the franchise.

Additionally, remember that the Topgolf franchise cost depends on the country you are opening it in. We will give a quick rundown of the estimated costs based on the countries below:

United States – $15 to $50 million.

Mexico – MXN 309 – MXN 1,029 mln.

United Kingdom – 11.15 to 37.17 mln British pound sterlings.

Australia – AUD 20.44 to AUD 68.12 mln.

United Arab Emirates – AED 55.09 – 183.65 million.

India – Rs 111.56 to Rs 371.87 crores.

Germany – EUR 13.19 to EUR 43.98 million.

These numbers also depend on the current market demands and the degree of inflation in the specific market at that point.

How Much Do Topgolf Franchise Owners Make?

Before you get confused about how big of an investment starting a Topgolf franchise is, you must look into the return on investment.

A Topgolf International franchise can easily generate an annual profit of $21.5 million course; this number will also fluctuate depending on the inflation in the market.

However, as you can see, the first year’s profit makes up for the initial investment you put into starting the franchise. That’s why most franchise owners say that the investment is huge, but so is the profit each year.

What are the Benefits of investing in a Topgolf Franchise?

With so many franchises available worldwide, why should you consider Topgolf International?

To be fair, the answer lies in the section right above. The return on investment is humongous and very profitable in the long run.

Some of the major benefits of investing in a Topgolf franchise include:

First, it is an established company name, meaning you won’t have to spend resources to establish the brand from scratch.It is an all-inclusive franchise establishment, which includes the cost of running the facility, so you won’t have to worry about additional and unnecessary expenses.The franchiser provides training to the hired staff, including the Associate and the management team. This makes it easier for you to run the establishment without any worry.With an established franchise, you aren’t shooting your shot in the dark. You will know about the equipment, the operations, and the outcomes. In addition, you won’t have to spend an unnecessary amount of money on the marketing and advertising aspect of things, which is a bonus too.

Since Topgolf includes all of these amazing perks with their franchise, the initial investment is extremely high. But, as we said, the return on investment is even better. So, once you kickstart the process, you won’t have to look back on the big investment.

Conclusion

Topgolf International is a leading sports entertainment brand that will not stop anytime soon. So, if you are considering making a big investment in your entrepreneurial journey, this is where you start. However, acquiring approval for the franchise isn’t easy. They require a lot of comprehensive verification and background checks that you need to pass to get the license and permit. We hope this article answers all your questions in detail.

The post Topgolf Franchise Cost: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
The Secret of Growing a Non-profit Organization – Foundation WordPress Theme
A blog designed on a wordpress.

In addition to organizing events, disseminating information, and using PR technologies, you invariably have a website. Companies engaged in serious activities, especially charity, try to create an image of a solid organization outside of time and conditions. People often look for your official website on the Internet to get acquainted with your activities. The credibility of the public depends on how modern and informative it’s designed. A non-updated and obsolete appearance may scare away potential investors or those wishing to take advantage of a charitable program. To solve the design issue quickly, efficiently, and without significant budget costs, there is such a development as the foundation WordPress theme.

You may see product examples on marketplaces, for instance, on TemplateMonster. Today we give a developer’s description and tell how this innovation can affect your company’s activities.

Foundation WordPress Theme – What Is It

This development has ready-made page layouts. After installation, the site will change. The appearance of sections, the arrangement of pages’ information, and even the structure are different. New units appeared, if they were not there before. Also, depending on the purchased development, the functionality may be unique. For example, multicurrency, multilingual, and the ability to make an online payment (that is, a charitable donation in your case).

These products group programmers made specifically for WordPress. Other CMS, such as Magento, OpenCart, Shopify, or PrestaShop, won’t work. Each CMS has its own separate offer. Be careful when buying.

Therefore, by installing the offer, you receive a new design. It’ll definitely be more modern, updated, and functional.

Another usefulness is a competent and intuitive information arrangement and structuring of sections. The visitor easily finds the necessary information and feels comfortable watching the news. Consequently, usability and attractiveness to the consumer are increased.

How Templates Help the Growing Of Non-profit Structures

Let’s look at the main points and secrets of offer. You’ll understand what proposal benefits you will receive.

So, a template or foundation WordPress theme has some features:

The new look helps build the image of a company that keeps up with the times.Modern functionality helps receive donations online. You only need to set up the option to receive money. In essence and functionality, it’ll be like a shopping cart in an online store. Only a person can set the payment amount himself.Erases boundaries. Thanks to multilingualism, you have a translation, and visitors from different parts of the world get acquainted with the main concept and ideology. Thus, the reach of people will be huge.Inspires confidence. The design is so well thought out and doesn’t look prim and, at the same time, stylish that it cannot but attract attention. Ease of information presentation and a logical structure is clear to anyone.

As you can see, there are many benefits. Now let’s look for relevant products on the Internet.

Where to Buy a Good Template

Many CMS offer their own development options. However, the download number is so high that interest is immediately lost. Another disadvantage is the product’s versatility. No business specifics. After all, creating proposals for each niche and activity type is costly. It’s much easier to release a universal and flexible product. But in this case, the individual approach that every buyer of the template wants to get is lost.

There is a way out – look for marketplaces and independent developers. One of the most famous examples is TemplateMonster. Thanks to many years of experience in its field, the website has something to offer. Dozens of developments from many designers are on the marketplace. At the same time, there are highly specialized layouts for the charitable sphere and non-profit structures. You may also select a form with similar activities and tasks.

Advantages of TemplateMonster:

Offers variety.Filter by type of activity.Accessible and useful preview. Each proposition has a Demo page.Constant updating of the proposals list. Therefore, the risk of buying an outdated design is extremely small.Frequent discounts.

Your task is to choose the style that best suits the direction.

FAQ What is the social foundation WordPress theme?

Products create a new external look which helps to make a positive image and get sympathy from the public. It’s also easy to edit the pages. Try to implement new ideas about appearance with these cool proposals.

How to use the social foundation WordPress theme?

Use becomes easier if you read the instructions. No time for settings? TemplateMonster has additional installation and configuration services.

How to edit the social foundation WordPress theme?

You edit almost everything in layouts. The instructions help to cope with the task. Each buyer receives the document immediately after payment.

Does the social foundation WordPress theme have support?

Yes, TemplateMonster contains information that all buyers will receive six months of free support from the developer.

The post The Secret of Growing a Non-profit Organization – Foundation WordPress Theme appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
The Pros and Cons of Real Estate Investing That Every Investor Must Know
Real estate documents with a calculator.

Real estate investing is a huge commitment and not something to be taken lightly. There are many responsibilities and problems that come along with being a real estate investor. However, if done correctly, real estate investing can be highly profitable.

Is Real Estate Investing Right for You?

Real estate investing is not for everyone. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to be successful. Before you begin, ask yourself if you are prepared to handle the responsibilities and risks that come with being a real estate investor.

By using different landlord tools, you can automate a lot of the everyday tasks and make your life easier.

For example, free property management software can help you keep track of all your properties in one place, collect rent online, make tenant background checks, track your maintenance requests, and communicate with your tenants.

What Kind of Real Estate Investor Will You Be?

There are two types of real estate investors:

Active Real Estate Investors

Active investors take a hands-on approach to their investments. They may buy properties, renovate them, and then sell their property investment for a profit.

Active investors must be prepared to handle the responsibilities of being a landlord, such as finding tenants, collecting rent, and dealing with repairs.

Passive Real Estate Investors

Passive investors typically invest in rental properties and receive income from the rental payments. Passive investors do not need to be as involved with the day-to-day management of their properties, but they still need to carefully screen tenants and be prepared for occasional repairs.

Pros of Real Estate Investing Real Estate Investing Generates Steady Cash Flow

One of the biggest advantages of real estate investing is that it can generate a steady stream of cash flow. This is especially true if you invest in rental properties. The rental payments you receive can help offset the costs of owning and maintaining the property.

Real Estate Appreciates in Value

Another benefit of real estate investing is that properties typically appreciate in value over time. This appreciation can provide a nice return on your investment when you eventually sell the property.

Unique Tax Benefits of Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing has some unique tax benefits that you won’t find with other investments. For example, you can deduct the cost of repairs and improvements from your taxes. You may also be able to defer paying taxes on capital gains if you roll your profits into a new investment property.

Real Estate Investing Builds Equity

Over time, your rental property will likely increase in value. This increase in value is known as equity. Equity can be used as a down payment on a new property or it can be accessed through a home equity loan or line of credit.

Real Estate Investing Provides an Inflationary Hedge

Real estate investing can provide an inflationary hedge because the value of your property is not directly tied to the stock market. This means that if the stock market goes down, your property value may not be affected.

Real Estate Investments Are Tangible

Another advantage of real estate investing is that the investments are tangible. You can see and touch your investment, which can provide a sense of security.

However, real estate investing is not without risk. Here are some common ones you should keep in mind.

Risks of Real Estate Investing Vacancies

If you own rental property, there is always the risk that your tenants will move out and you will have a vacancy. Vacancies can be costly, as you will still need to pay the mortgage, taxes, and insurance on the property.

Repairs and Maintenance

All properties require ongoing repairs and maintenance. As a landlord, you will be responsible for paying for these repairs. Major repairs can be especially costly and may require you to take out a loan.

Tenant Issues

Dealing with tenants can be time-consuming and frustrating. You may have to deal with late rent payments, damage to the property, and noisy tenants.

Interest Rates

If you have a mortgage on your rental property, rising interest rates can impact your monthly payments.

Now that you know the pros and cons of real estate investing, you can decide if it is right for you. If you are comfortable with the risks, then real estate investing can be a great way to build wealth and generate income. Just be sure to do your research and invest in quality properties.

The post The Pros and Cons of Real Estate Investing That Every Investor Must Know appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
6 Changes You Can Make to Get More Website Traffic
A website been displayed on the screen.

Running an online business means that your website is especially important. Since there is no physical location to visit, people need to be able to find your products or services when they search online. If you run an online business or site, there are specific things you can do to drive traffic to your website. In this post, we’ll show you how to get more people coming your way with these 8 changes:

Publish Interesting Content on Your Website

Content is the core of your website and a crucial part of content marketing. Think of it this way: You’re building a website to help people with something. But how do you know if your site is helping anyone? Do people visit it? Do they read the posts and find value in them? Do they purchase your products and services?

Content marketing is about creating relevant, valuable content for your audience that helps them solve their problems. It’s why you need to publish interesting, helpful content on your website; otherwise, no one will be coming back for more.

Be Mobile-Friendly

Most people use their smartphones to browse the web, and that number is growing each year. In fact, most website traffic comes from mobile devices rather than desktops. This means that if your site isn’t optimized for these smaller screens, you’re losing potential customers by making them squint at your product photos or read long paragraphs on a tiny screen.

If you haven’t done so already, make sure your website is “mobile-friendly” by checking out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool—it’s a quick and easy way to see how good or bad your site performs in terms of usability on mobile devices.

Create a Social Media Strategy

Social media can be a great way to connect with potential customers, it’s also an excellent way to build brand awareness. Many people who don’t know you or your business might be interested in what you have to offer, but they don’t know where to find it. By having active social media accounts, you’ll make yourself more visible on the Internet and give them yet another reason to visit your website.

A good social media strategy should include the kinds of things your ideal customers are most interested in and the platforms they frequent the most. A strategy should incorporate the types of content you want to post, when to post it, and what platforms it needs to go on. You should understand the best practices on TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms to get your content found.

Optimize for Search Engines

While it would be great to put your website up and have people find you instantly, it’s not quite that simple. Companies that offer SEO services know that it’s critical to do all the right things so that when people search for solutions like yours, you get found. If you’re an online business only, you’ll want to focus on using the right keywords, posting content regularly, optimizing meta tags, and more. Additionally, images should use alt text as another way to give your site some love.

Optimizing your website for local search is a great way to generate additional traffic. First, you’ll need to make sure that your business is listed on local directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, and more. These sites are all free and easy to set up with basic information like your business name and address.

Once you’ve done that it’s time to optimize your website. Keyword density is a term used in SEO that refers to how often specific keywords appear on a page relative to other words. While you don’t want to keyword stuff, you do need to use those keywords in natural ways throughout your content.

Improve Your Site Design

Your design should be simple, clean, and easy to navigate. Make sure the design is consistent across all pages. Don’t use too many graphics or too much text, as this will distract from the main message you want to convey. Finally, ensure that your site is consistent with your brand identity so people can easily recognize it as being yours once they visit it.

Build Trust With Potential Customers

Include testimonials, reviews, and case studies on your website to help build trust. Testimonials are the most effective way to build trust. Testimonials can be in the form of reviews or case studies, which are anecdotal stories about how a business helped someone. The key here is authenticity—make sure you’re using real names and photos when you show testimonials on your site. Use direct quotes as much as possible, especially ones that are unique.

The post 6 Changes You Can Make to Get More Website Traffic appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
B2B Enterprise E-Commerce – All About Building a Marketplace
b2b ecommerce

Over five times larger than the B2C industry, the worldwide B2B eCommerce business was estimated to be worth $14.9 trillion in 2020. Not to mention search volume for keywords like “Online marketplace,” “Website for sale,” and “Website marketplace” reached 2 million per week, A 10x growth compared to the last 5 years.

Without a doubt, B2B eCommerce is expanding to new heights.

Let’s try to understand B2B E-commerce, its basis, types, applications, and why a Canada online marketplace for businesses is turning out to be the most effective sales channel.

What is B2B E-Commerce and Its Types?

Business-to-business electronic commerce, also known as B2B eCommerce, refers to the sale of products or services via online exchanges between companies. For distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, and other types of B2B sellers, buying efficiency and effectiveness are increased since orders are executed digitally.

B2B companies have historically been sluggish in adopting e-commerce. For example, only 9% of all B2B product sales in the U.S. took place through an eCommerce website just before the pandemic, according to an eMarker analysis. But with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change and more millennials entering the B2B market, customer expectations are rising more quickly than ever, and B2B businesses need to keep up.

Types of B2B Ecommerce B2B2C

Business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) E-commerce eliminates the typical intermediary between the B2B company and the B2C, bringing the companies in direct touch with the customer. Therefore, the dealings between a wholesaler or manufacturer and conventional B2B and B2C models is the best way to explain the B2B2C model.

Wholesale

Companies often buy products in bulk from wholesalers or manufacturers at a much lower cost with the purpose of selling them again at retail prices. The sale of goods to other businesses is another way to define this type of B2B, known as wholesale.

Many businesses, including retail, food service, construction, and healthcare, use wholesale B2B models. Wholesale B2B transactions typically take place over the phone, over email, or via spreadsheet order forms.

Manufacturers

Manufacturers use parts, raw materials, manual labor, and machines to make completed things on a huge scale. Then, the final products are sold to other manufacturers, suppliers, or distributors in a B2B business.

An excellent example of a manufacturer in a B2B setting is the auto industry. Individual auto components, such as an engine and fuel pump, are made by the manufacturer. The automobile firm constructs the full car from the parts and sells it to the consumer after the manufacturer sells them the parts.

Distributors

There are two alternatives for what happens next after a product leaves the hands of the manufacturer: The manufacturer can sell directly to the end user if they would rather have more control over the selling portion of their business. But this still places duties like order management, packing, and marketing in their hands.

However, a producer can collaborate with a distributor to sell their goods on their behalf. In this situation, the distributor closely collaborates with the producer in an effort to increase sales and move the product down the distribution chain by raising awareness for the products they are making.

The enormous potential for distributors to sell online and experience extraordinary growth is demonstrated by online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. In fact, between 2019 and 2020, the adoption rate of e-commerce distribution increased by a weighted 26.3%. Furthermore, since Amazon has established a standard for automated, tailored experiences, wholesalers must use more sophisticated eCommerce tools to keep customers interested.

Advantages of Using a B2B Ecommerce Platform

If your B2B company still uses antiquated methods of communication like faxes, cold calls, and Excel spreadsheets, it might be time to change how you operate.

When you’re prepared to enter the world of e-commerce, choosing a B2B e-commerce platform is the first significant step. Businesses nowadays may easily benefit from the newest eCommerce capabilities to help fulfill their consumers’ expectations and update their outdated systems thanks to the hundreds of platforms already available.

Using a B2B eCommerce platform can be the wisest course of action for your company for the following reasons:

Better control over suppliers and clients.

You can handle inventory, manage orders, and manage customer data all from one location when you run an eCommerce platform. Your eCommerce platform may assist in streamlining B2B operations and enhancing the customer experience by offering solutions for automated sales processes between firms, suppliers, and distributors.

Sell more to current clients

B2B e-commerce offers an excellent opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell to current customers on a platform that is available and accessible to your audience. A tailored experience is also one of the finest ways to keep your clients interested.

In fact, to support the creation of a more individualized customer experience, 55% of B2B marketing spending in 2020 were devoted to digital initiatives.

Potential Growth

B2B eCommerce presents a potential to expand into new areas and draw in new clients, so it’s not merely a chance to market to existing customers. There are essentially no restrictions for merchants wishing to go digital because there are so many eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, and digital solutions accessible. This makes it simpler than ever for B2B enterprises to expand worldwide or enter new product markets.

No error in terms of data analytics

The ability to often monitor client behavior as they shop is one of the main benefits of having an e-commerce website. You may utilize data analytics to determine which aspects of your business are effective and which should be eliminated, enabling you to improve user experience and make better business decisions. A good example of this is BigCommerce’s Ecommerce Analytics and Insight Report.

Common B2B Ecommerce Myths

Maybe the B2B space isn’t quite up to speed with B2C in terms of eCommerce, but the numbers don’t lie — B2B is going digital.

In terms of eCommerce, B2B may not be quite as advanced as B2C, but the data doesn’t lie: B2B is going digital.

But despite the obvious shift toward B2B eCommerce, there are still a lot of myths about the sector. Let’s dispel the most prevalent myths, which range from ignorance of the sophisticated technology at our disposal to inexperience with automated best practices the idea that you’re not selling to businesses.The main reason why many brands claim they aren’t selling B2B is that they are unaware that they already are.

Vending B2B can be a variety of things:

Wholesale (Bulk orders).Ties with major or chain businesses for distribution.Selling to companies (schools, businesses, nonprofits).A supplier who sells to retailers.

To sell B2B, you don’t have to be a supplier. B2B and B2C brands are prevalent online.

Selling B2B does not require a separate e-commerce website marketplace. Instead, you may leverage customer groups to enable unique browsing experiences for your B2B segment while also optimizing site engagement and SEO on a single URL.

Conclusion

There is no denying that B2B e-commerce is advancing, with 32% of American B2B professionals stating that it is the most successful sales channel, as opposed to 23% who support in-person methods. And given how swiftly B2C companies are already moving across the digital arena, it’s probable that the B2B sector won’t be far behind.

You’ll be happy to learn that there is no shortage of eCommerce platforms and capabilities available for the B2B community, whether you’re trying to start a B2B business or want to move your present firm online. The advantages of eCommerce far outweigh the initial investment, even though moving digital may be beyond your company’s comfort zone. These advantages include access to new markets, higher conversion rates, enhanced customer happiness, centralized data, and much more.

Therefore, if your B2B company is still using antiquated procedures, it may be time to get rid of old ideas and start embracing the future of B2B e-commerce.

The post B2B Enterprise E-Commerce – All About Building a Marketplace appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Things Every Business Needs in Order To Be Successful
women pointing out at the screen.

No matter what type of business you have, there are certain essentials that you need to be successful. If you were to ask any successful business owner, it’s almost like a checklist that needs to be met if you are hoping for your business to be successful. This article will take a look at some of the most important things a business needs to be successful. From a strong marketing strategy to effective financial planning, make sure you have the following things in place before you start seeing results.

A Great Website

One of the very first things that your business needs to be successful is a great website. There is absolutely no point in marketing your business, especially if you have an e-commerce business, and your website has been poorly designed. The first step to having an efficiently designed website is to have a user flow diagram. User flow diagrams help to understand the decisions visitors will make once on your site, and they will also help to streamline your site by reducing unnecessary steps for visitors. Great user flows can be designed by using software such as Overflow, which is extremely easy to use. Creating a good UX is not easy, but it is essential for any business that wants to succeed online.

Once that’s done, you can begin focusing on the UI, which again, could be made more efficient and user-friendly if you were to use a UI flow dialogue. Your website should be clean (not cluttered with links and clickable buttons) and should help visitors find exactly what they need. If it’s an e-commerce store, your products should have accurate descriptions and photos.

SEO Plan

The next thing that you are going to need if you want your business to be successful, especially in today’s day and age, is an SEO plan. SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it’s the process of optimizing your site to rank higher on the search engine results pages, or SERPs. Why do you want that? Because the higher your website ranks, the more organic traffic you will receive and the more profits you will make.

Two key aspects should be included in your SEO plan; a link-building strategy, and a content strategy. What is link building? This refers to gaining backlinks, which means links on other sites that point back to your site. Backlinks help to increase the authority of your site and, therefore, your rankings. However, you should always aim to gain high-quality backlinks from sites with a higher domain rating than yours.

In terms of content, you should be creating content that answers the search queries of users. Not only will this allow you to rank higher, but it will also help you to build authority with your potential customers. To create this relevant content, you will need to do intensive keyword research.

Customers That Need You

This might go without saying, but one of the most important things that you will need to have a successful business is customers that need you. What exactly does this mean? Well, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of entrepreneurs and businesses out there that have created clever, practical, and sometimes funny products, but the problem is that no one wants the products or is willing to pay for them.

Regardless of how much passion you have for your product or how much you think it is needed, it’s the customers that need it. This is why, before even beginning, you should do some research and groundwork to establish whether or not there is a need or demand for your product or service.

A Great Business Model

Finally, the last thing that you are going to need to have a successful business is a great business model. Again, this might go without saying, but many people seem to forget in their excitement to start a business that it takes more than just a product. For example, some things to consider with your business model would be:

Who is your target audience?What is their price point?How much does making the product cost?How much profit per product sale?What are the total business expenses?What is the total profit at the end of the day?

Of course, there are many more considerations to make, especially when you begin factoring in manufacturing, advertising, marketing, distribution, physical real estate, and more.

The post Things Every Business Needs in Order To Be Successful appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Factors To Become A Successful Business Woman
A Business Woman talking over the phone.

Becoming a successful businesswoman is headed by plenty of challenges. According to the World Economic Forum the latest Gender Gap Report, many factors hinder the success of business women. For example, women entrepreneurs lack access to capital, land, and credit. And lack of access to financial instruments is a significant role in hindering successful women-led businesses.

The major challenges the women face while doing their business worldwide include limited funding, balance responsibilities, fear of failure, and an Inadequate support system. Other challenges include gender inequality and little knowledge of business documentation.

Bizreport is one of the reputable business consultancies which supports businesses to receive complete guidance over business formation services. It suggests the best consultancy service, guiding financial instruments and fundraising methods. Bizreport specifically supports female-led companies and helps them build their business empire in the state of their choice. Furthermore, it provides complete help to the female in business registration, filing and documentation, and maintenance over the years unless the business reaches the takeoff stage.

Let us discuss some factors for businesswomen to become more successful:

There is much more to be done for the successful inclusion of women entrepreneurs at the societal level. First, however, we discuss some of the personal factors/traits of successful businesswomen at the individual level.

Develop A Positive Mind Set To Grow

The thoughts you use to send to your mind develop your mindset. Negative thoughts communicated to your mind develop a negative mindset that will hinder your growth and success.

However, a positive mindset lets you grow and prosper. And don’t let your challenges push you down.

Have A Crystal-Clear Vision

To be a successful businesswoman, you need to have an intense vision of what you want to achieve. The vision will help you drive your business goals and objectives. The people with great ideas aspire to achieve them. The vision makes your world how you want it to be instead of how it is.

Celebrate The Challenges

The business environment is full of challenges. Female business owners must learn to embrace the challenges, as every challenge has a hidden opportunity. If we see and analyze, we will conclude that problems create growth.

Follow Your Passion And Capitalize On The Opportunities

A successful businesswoman ideally should know about her passion. She should be able to capitalize on opportunities that go with her passion. For example, helping people may be a passion for a female. She can pursue a career in nursing or a medical doctor to follow her passion.

Identify And Eliminate Your Limiting Beliefs

Eliminating limiting beliefs is the way of living for a successful businesswoman. The first step towards eliminating your limiting beliefs and then removing them. You can use a “seven columns thought analysis sheet” psychological tool. Using the tool will allow you to identify and eliminate limiting beliefs.

Manage the Stressors

There are too many stressors in the life of a person/ successful person. The stressors come in the form of bad health, poor performance and lack of motivation. So, we need to understand how to identify and eliminate those stressors. The most crucial stressor is terrible health. It is essential to focus on overall health and wellness to eliminate health-related stressors. Take healthy food, exercise, and spend time with nature.

Don’t Try To Please Everyone

Trying to please everyone is not the trait of successful businesswomen. Suppose you spend too much time pleasing others, resulting in loss of sight to your vision. Hence, your business starts suffering due to this pleasing behavior.

Do Result Focused Efforts

As a successful businesswoman, you need to focus on the result. You need to focus on the vision you created and the results you require to support your vision. It is also essential to build a good business with solid funding and a good team. A strong team, including your advisors, board, and partners, is the key to driving focused vision results.

The post Factors To Become A Successful Business Woman appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Features to Look for in a Web Conferencing Software
 Web Conferencing Software for people working from home.

Web conferencing has become more important than ever in how we connect in real-time. This is because more people are working from home, more companies are popping up to develop in expanding markets, and because of an increase in remote teams which are made up of workers from all over the world. The need for web conferencing is now more than ever. Web conferencing software that is also reasonably priced, such as Adobe Connect Pricing, gives your workforce simple two-way communication.

But what exactly should you be looking for in a web conferencing service? Let’s see- High-Definition Audio and Video

Web conferencing software places a high value on audio and video quality. Users want to feel as if they are having genuine face-to-face discussions with other participants, and high-quality video is a big element of that. A video conferencing glitch, as well as grainy sights and crackly audio, is a quite certain way to wreck any online conference. Aside from the quality of your webcam or mic, the software itself may include options that help improve the quality of your experiences, such as auto-mute for non-speaking participants, noise cancellation, and settings changes for low bandwidth users.

Should enable complete reporting

Any worthwhile web conferencing service will include unified communications options that enable you to be in complete control over your online meeting. Collaborative software that incorporates all aspects of the dialogue, such as transcription, thorough reports, and video and audio recording, allows your online conference to flow naturally.

There’s no need to take notes or request that someone repeat their notion or idea. Simply press the record button to store the video and watch it later. When everything that was said and done is recorded, your attention is completely focused. You can always be there and provide well-thought-out criticism, a flawless presentation, or mentoring sessions that lead to further potential advances.

Option for sharing a screen

Screen sharing enables people to share their computer screens with other meeting attendees. As web conferencing becomes more interactive, most purchasers will consider this a must-have feature. Screen sharing must not only be of great quality but also simple to turn on and off. The ability for numerous users to share their screens at the same time is also growing in popularity, although not every software on the market supports this functionality. If this is vital to your team, make sure that your chosen tool has it before subscribing.

Should support features of a dynamic presentation

Certain aspects will be necessary for sophisticated presentations. Check that you can post a range of file kinds, such as MP4 videos, PowerPoint presentations, and PDFs. This allows you the freedom to incorporate rich media into your presentation to hold your audience’s attention. Note sharing is another sophisticated web conferencing feature that can help you give better presentations. During a conference or webinar, you can record a series of steps or a single piece of the presentation and transmit it to attendees as notes.

Chat Options

Whether you’re presenting a marketing webinar to a bunch of leads or hosting a conference with staff, your users will benefit more from the session if they can interact. This is why having a comprehensive chat feature is so beneficial. Look for chat tools that allow your web conference users to share remarks and messages during a conference or online event. It should not only include text but also emojis.

Conclusion-

It is worthwhile to invest in ensuring that your company has all of the necessary web conferencing tools. Advanced features enable you to expand and grow your business manifolds without much effort. Keep in mind these features before buying web conferencing software.

The post Features to Look for in a Web Conferencing Software appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Is Your Commercial Auto Insurance Sufficient? Use These Tips
A woman walking with a folder in her hand.

You are not often faced with the daunting task of figuring out whether or not your commercial auto insurance is sufficient. You usually sign up because it’s required to drive in many states and use your car every day. However, even when you’re done driving and don’t need the insurance anymore, there are still times when you may want to consider making changes to stay protected. We will give tips on finding out if your current insurance company is still providing you with sufficient coverage.

Do You Keep Up with All the Changes?

Perhaps the easiest way to determine whether or not your coverage is sufficient is to determine if your company keeps up with all the changes. If you were unhappy about specific features of your current policy, or if you have just had a change in life and would like to add some other coverage, you may be able to request these things from your insurance carrier. A good example is an on-road assistance, which many drivers miss when it’s not included in their commercial auto insurance policy. Some companies may make it available at an additional cost, while others may choose not to include it.

Do You Still Use High Risk Vehicles?

If you sell a high-risk item, even if it’s not prohibited in your state, you may want to rethink your coverage. You can sometimes purchase additional coverage from your insurance company, which provides liability protection for any high-risk cargo or vehicle. It’s usually a solid plan for businesses like pawn shops and used car lots. However, the coverage sometimes only lasts a year at a time, and it can become quite expensive. If you’re interested in protecting your business this way, you should ensure that the car or cargo is worth insuring before going through with it.

How Often Do You Make Excess Mileage Claims?

This is one of the most complicated questions to answer since it depends on how often you drive. If you rarely make any mileage claims, it may be a great idea to move to a commercial auto insurance policy that relies on your driving record instead of specific individual vehicles. This way, your insurance company can place you in a better group based on your driving habits and help reduce some of your costs. Even if you have trouble making mileage claims less often, you’re still well protected by this type of commercial auto insurance policy.

What Does Your Coverage Look Like?

When it comes time to check out your coverage, ensure you’re happy with the information provided. Even if you don’t like how it’s set up, you’re still protected as long as the company includes what’s required by law. If you find that your coverage doesn’t have some things, such as theft or damage to a vehicle that is required by law, consider switching companies. You don’t want to discover later that there were some loopholes somewhere that allowed someone to take advantage of your business.

In conclusion, there is no easy way to determine whether or not your commercial auto insurance is sufficient. However, by trying to find out what changes you may be able to make and whether or not the company makes specific errors, you should be able to know if the policy is sufficient for your needs.

The post Is Your Commercial Auto Insurance Sufficient? Use These Tips appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Why do you Need to Choose the Right Plastic Bag Manufacturer in the USA?
Different colour plastic bags.

As we already know, custom plastic bags benefits brand promotion, but they are meant to be durable and of better quality to fulfill their purpose.

You must choose the right plastic bag manufacturer for your brand to fulfill this purpose.

Quality check for plastic bags

Let us now discuss what qualities a plastic bag should exhibit to enhance brand recognition. These includes:

Ease of usage:

Plastic bags should be easy to use, making them quicker and easier to open. This will ensure that such plastic bags can be reused again and again.

Also, in this way, they can serve their purposes in a more economical method than paper bags.

Custom designs:

Plastic bags are meant to be produced so they can be easily customized per the brand’s requirement.

It means you can add your names, logos, and tagline on the front of the plastic bag and distribute it to the customers for further promotion.

Economical

Though plastic bags are available at a very nominal rate in the market, a large variety of plastic bags are available.

It would be worthy of selecting the plastic bags which are best in quality as not all of them will be acquainted with the quality required.

Must fulfill the purpose

You must identify the purpose of plastic bags for your business. This is the decision-making parameter of selection. You do not want a plastic bag that can easily break and can’t carry much stuff.

Spending extra money for the quality is far better than double bagging, which eventually will cost you more.

Durability

The plastic bag should be highly durable, i.e. it should not be prone to tearing, stretching, or breaking.

 This would result in more prolonged usage of your custom plastic bag leading to a solid brand impression.

Size and color of the bag

While considering size, you must remember that the plastic bag size must be convenient. It must be large enough to fulfill the customers’ needs and yet small enough to be carried easily.

Also, while selecting the color of the plastic bag, make sure it goes well with your brand logo and aligns with the contrast of your business.

Quality Print

To maintain the quality of your plastic bag, it is essential to use quality prints on the plastic bags.

No one would like to carry shopping bags whose print tends to come off quickly.

Reasons to choose iSell Packaging as a reliable plastic bag manufacturer in the USA.

Regarding Packaging, iSell is the trusted name of manufacturers in the USA. Here are the points that make us unique and worthy in contrast to others

Variety of packaging products under one roof:

You would be amazed to see the variant of packaging products we offer under one roof. All our products are rich in quality and are highly durable.

We offer a reliable range of products.

Perfection with the blend of quality

With years of experience in this domain, iSell offers our clients the best quality packaging material.

For this, iSell only deals with high-quality plastic resins that ideally fit all the standard regulations of the FDA and are perfect for your brand.

Customized Packaging

Coming up with the latest trend in the market, we understand how important it is to maintain the uniqueness of your brand.

Therefore, we provide customized packaging solution to business that aligns well with their objectives.

Affordability

At iSell Packaging, products are available at reasonable wholesale prices. Also, we offer attractive discounts on bulk orders.

Conclusion

I hope you have understood why it is essential for you to choose the right type of plastic bag manufacturer in the USA.

The post Why do you Need to Choose the Right Plastic Bag Manufacturer in the USA? appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- What I Found
Lamine Zarrad | StellarFi
Lamine Zarrad

LAMINE ZARRAD

Founder & CEO of StellarFi, a company set out to solve one of the biggest economic problems faced by American consumers - access to credit.


What Is StellarFi? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

StellarFi is a credit-building platform and public benefit corporation on a mission to disrupt the U.S. poverty cycle and provide credit access to 132 million Americans with low or no credit.

Members can begin using StellarFi through a tiered monthly subscription, which empowers them to build credit by paying the bills they already have, such as streaming services, rent and phone bills. We report bill payments made through StellarFi’s platform to the three major credit bureaus – Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax® – building a positive payment history for our members. The website application launched in June 2022, and we are rolling out a mobile app later this year.

I’ve been on a trajectory of creating solutions for larger problems. I went from optimizing logistics at one military base to tackling banking challenges across a whole industry, and now, I want to take on issues facing entire populations and help those whose lives have been impacted by a lack of financial literacy or a string of financial challenges.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My goal is to leverage technology to help others succeed, but growing up, my goal was about trying to survive. I was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan SSR, which was a former republic of the USSR. When the Soviet Union fell, my family was forced to escape from an ongoing ethnic war on Armenians, which my mother was.

Suddenly, my comfortable childhood was turned into being a refugee with nothing but a bag of clothes. After fleeing to Moscow, eventually making it to the United States and going to school here, I joined the Marine Corps.

On my first deployment to Iraq, my inner entrepreneur really took over. I always noticed inefficiencies and assessed processes, and I would pitch ways to improve infrastructure to the colonel running the base I was on. Thankfully he was very receptive to my ideas and allowed me to help manage logistics for our base of 20,000 personnel. The resourcefulness that I honed as a refugee and immigrant helped me make significant improvements to our infrastructure and logistics during that time.

After the military, I earned a business degree and landed my first job in financial services at Merrill Lynch. I wanted to continue in the financial sector, so I went to grad school to study economic policy and worked for a hedge fund. Then, I accepted a position as a bank examiner in the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

As a regulator, I had a unique, 360-degree view of the banking system and saw that banks, both large and small, were (and still are) profoundly reactive instead of proactive. This prompted my interest in how we could use data-driven technology to help banks make more advantageous decisions and provide better experiences to customers. These experiences led to the birth of my first startup, Tokken. Since then, I’ve founded Joust (acquired by ZenBusiness) and now StellarFi.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The inspiration is the double entendre of “stellar” credit that signifies financial excellence and illustrates the grandness of our cosmic concept.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the journey is the process of creation. I love synthesizing seemingly unrelated concepts into something completely new and then bringing that idea to life. The least liked experience is having to fire people. I always take it personally.

The most challenging moment for the company and me is always the decision to actually commit to the concept full time because there’s no going back once you head down that road. You either succeed or fail, but either way, you must complete the journey.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In March, StellarFi closed a $7.2M initial funding round. The round was led by Acrew Capital and co-led by Trust Ventures with participation from Accomplice Ventures, Fiat Ventures, Vera Equity, Permit Ventures, Kindergarten Ventures, and angel investors.

Since March, we’ve brought on amazing talent from across the globe and publicly launched the StellarFi credit-building platform. With thousands of members now using the platform, we’re busy improving the current experience and designing valuable features we’re excited to launch later this year.




Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My founding partners are Stacey Tisdale and Angela Yee. Stacey Tisdale is an award-winning TV broadcast financial journalist, financial behavior expert and CEO and co-host of Wealth Wednesdays, a digital financial empowerment platform. Angela Yee is a serial entrepreneur. She co-hosts the nationally syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club and Wealth Wednesdays, and she hosts her own podcast.

Stacey and Angela are both financial literacy advocates and have done great work to inform and empower their communities. StellarFi is a public benefit corporation with a mission to improve the financial well-being of Americans. Stacey and Angela share this vision and they have the tools to speak to the underserved communities we want to reach.



StellarFi Is A Public Benefit Corporation. Tell Us More About This And What It Means In Terms Of Your Company’s Values And Goals.

People deserve more. Anyone who pays rent should have the opportunity to buy a home, and no one should be stuck in a cycle of not being able to get credit because they don’t already have credit, or paying more for things because they have less financial power. That’s what inspired me to found StellarFi as a public benefit corporation. We want to generate new opportunities that anyone can access.

Earlier this year, StellarFi co-hosted its first community-focused financial literacy event with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority chapter to promote financial literacy for the BlPOC community. In turn, the city of Bridgeport mayor named April 30, the date of the event, Stellar Credit Day in honor of the event.

This event came on the heels of StellarFi’s “Get Your Bills Paid with Stellar!” $10,000 Sweepstakes to help people pay their bills with sweepstakes prizes totaling nearly $70,000.

StellarFi also partners with Stellar Credit Day keynote speaker Stacey Tisdale, who also is a StellarFi founding partner, and Angela Yee on initiatives including sharing financial literacy best practices through their digital finance empowerment program “Wealth Wednesdays.”



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I really, really dislike routines. But I recognize the value of having some predictability in the day. So I try to have consistency in my daily activities but reserve the right to be flexible in changing and modifying whatever I’m doing.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Resilience (because it’s a freaking grind). Empathy (because you MUST KNOW thy customer and team). Killer Instinct (because you only eat what you kill).

You must ask yourself if there’s something else that you could do for a living, if the answer is yes, then do yourself a huge favor and pursue that other thing. If the answer is: I absolutely can not do anything else but be an entrepreneur then go for it.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching StellarFi?

We thought our product was solving a big problem for a small group of people. Instead, we realized we have a mass market solution.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

Although it’s a funny mistake now, it was terrifying back then. The funniest mistake I made was at my very first significant investor pitch to Wells Fargo. Investor pitches have a specific format with only so much time allotted and specific points to hit, and at this pitch, there were dozens of investors, high-profile people, and a handful of other startups. I had shared my ideas before and spoken to investors and thought I had my pitch down, so I barely spent any time practicing.

When it was time for my pitch, I stepped up on the stage and blanked. I was so nervous. Every second felt like an eternity because I couldn’t push a word out. Words finally started coming out of my mouth and I’m still not quite sure what I said. I said some things about the business and maybe about the business model. After I finished, I sat down next to one of my co-founders and he said “Well, the silver lining here is no one can steal our idea.”

The takeaway from that experience was no matter how good you think you are, practice is essential. Every new experience is unique and requires practice for success. I felt I was experienced in selling my ideas and public speaking, but since then I’ve learned it’s important to prepare.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I spend time with my family, read, exercise, play and try to carve as much time as possible to think.



Who Is Your Role Model?

I don’t have a role model.



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

Failure is a factor of success” is my mantra.

You have to embrace and anticipate it. No matter how experienced you are, there will be failure and you have to manage it, leverage it, then turn it into success.


How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

Fintech provides compelling ideas and technologies to emerge that will alter the state of our ever-changing world. Here’s what to watch for:

Accelerated evolution: Because of COVID-19, remote work was an absolute necessity for over two years, and platforms like Zoom and Slack scaled at absurd rates to keep businesses operational. Tech investments were completely recalibrated, with billions in capital going to the digital economy. The lesson from this is to continue our technological and entrepreneurial evolution to better prepare for the unknown and unpredictable tech evolutions, in fintech specifically.

Decentralized trust: For better or for worse, Americans have disassembled their trust in the mega-entities that once dictated our opinions, decisions and ideologies. But, as with anything else, decentralized trust has a silver lining—especially for fintech. Consumers who once feared using a credit card online are now comfortable depositing checks digitally, using apps to transfer money to friends and family and investing in blockchain. In short, decentralized trust has a ripple effect that leads to consumers accessing loans, investment tools and more through fintech that would otherwise be unavailable.

Mass empowerment: There are swaths of the American populace that don’t understand the power of a good credit score—not because they lack financial literacy, but because they’ve never experienced life without good credit. With inadequate credit, consumers pay more for necessities, lack access to credit-based investments like homeownership and education, and endure financial emergencies with no safety net. Poor credit begets poor credit, and the consequences persist from generation to generation. Although Americans are facing immense challenges in a post-COVID world, it has opened the eyes of many to better understand and adopt financially literate practices.


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

Inflation is currently at a forty-year high as a recession looms in the near future. Americans don’t have to feel weighed down by a troubled economy and can take straightforward steps to ensure financial stability in the coming months and year:

Get current on your credit card payments 

Falling behind on loans and credit card payments can have serious consequences for your credit. Payment history, which represents your track record for repaying your debts, accounts for 35% of your credit score – more than any other credit rating factor.  Lenders can only report delinquent accounts to the credit bureaus if they’re more than 30 days overdue, but they may charge penalties if you pay even one day late. Coupled with inflation, those late fees can snowball into a serious deficit in your budget. Automating your payments can help if you simply forget due dates. If you find yourself making late payments because you don’t typically have cash in your account when the bill is due, look for areas to reduce expenses temporarily while you get caught up.

2. Build an emergency savings fund

Saving money is challenging, and unfortunately, building a savings fund becomes even more challenging during an economic downturn. Although it’s tough, focusing on stashing some cash away can keep rising prices and financial emergencies from causing long-term damage. For example, if you need to cover an unexpected repair or medical bill, a savings account helps you avoid going into debt to pay the bill or fall behind on your other expenses.

3. Reduce your spending and expenses

The forces driving inflation are complicated, but the effect is simple: as prices rise, life gets more expensive. Take a look at your accounts to see how your spending has shifted in recent months. If you notice vulnerable areas or your spending is no longer aligned with your financial goals or income, look for ways to cut back. You can’t control the price of gas or food, but you can control how often you drive or eat out, or eliminate unused memberships and subscriptions.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = freedom to do most daily things not out of necessity but because you want to do them.

 Lamine Zarrad’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, by Brendan Moynihan and Jim Paul

2. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin

- What I Found
Christy Fletcher | Authoritive

CHRISTY FLETCHER

Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Authoritive, a company that builds customized learning experiences over messaging technology for experts and creators.


What Is Authoritive? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Authoritive is a technology platform that allows content creators, coaches and experts of all kinds to deliver paid programs via messaging (SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, MSTeams et al). Right now, we’re collaborating on the content development and building each program, and supporting the creators in marketing and sales, so we’re selective about who we’re working with, but by the end of this year we’ll have a self-service option that will allow anyone to create a program and sell it.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My background is in publishing. I have run a very successful literary management company where I collaborated with writers to help them develop ideas which turned into books and then supported them in the publishing of those books. Eventually I grew into helping them develop communities around their work and with strategies for how to grow their businesses to be self-sustaining. In doing this over and over, I realized how many people were overly dependent on social media platforms that both owned their audience and required enormous effort to maintain engagement, while only providing erratic monetization at best.

There were also people who wrote books and made a good living speaking or consulting but were limited by their available time and by not having a product outside of themselves or a book. I concluded that there had to be a technology solution that would fill this product space, enabling them to deliver an experience of value to their audience, keeping that connection strong, while providing recurring revenue. Messaging does all of that and we’ve built a system that provides a very rich experience that feels personalized, like it’s one to one.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We ran on revenues for a few years before raising money so we were in a relatively good spot to approach the process. We were able to secure a significant (for us) seed round and found a lot of support in the EdTech space. Owl Ventures led the round and GMG Ventures became a major investor along with a small number of strategic angel investors. The funds were invested in two ways- expanding our team and developing the foundation of what will be a self-service platform launching later this year, in addition to add some important product features that make for a richer user experience.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My two co-founders are Jacob Lewis and Gene Cohen. Gene is our CTO whose background is in building and managing messaging systems. Jacob is my co-CEO who was an executive at Conde Nast, before starting his own content startup (which he later sold). They both have worked in venture-backed companies before (and together) and have a deep understanding of managing technology (and tech teams). It complements my background working with creative people which brings more of a brand, editorial and design sensibility. They happen to be very funny people which has kept us moving together through all of the ups and downs of startup life.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The collaboration with creative people who are passionate about their work and supporting their audiences is always energizing for me. After years of being a solopreneur, working with my two co-founders and building a team together has been rewarding in all kinds of ways. The hardest parts are navigating all of the unknowns and always trying to see around corners, but that’s just part of trying to learn how to build something that didn’t exist before. Every new program launch is a thrill and seeing how audiences respond to the experience; closing our seed round was also thrilling.



Can You Share A Couple Of Use Cases With Us Of How Different Creators Or Businesses Use Authoritive To Distribute Content?

Of course. We collaborated with food entrepreneur and award-winning writer Mark Bittman on a program to help people eat less meat. It’s an instructional program that delivers cooking tips and recipes with step by step instructions pushed on demand over sms. Another example is Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas who co-teach a course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business called Humor Serious Business. We developed a curriculum that helps people use levity as a super power at work that can be delivered over sms but can also be delivered via MS Teams or Slack so companies can make it available to their employees directly where they are already working.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We started out working with authors primarily and people who have a lot of authority in their fields. So Authoritive was a combination of author and authoritative.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I’m an early riser. So I get up around 5:30, make coffee and take my dog for a walk before getting kids out the door. I’m at my desk by 8 and each day is a new set of meetings, zoom, writing or other deep work before cutting out around 6:30. I blocked off an hour each day for “lunch” which gives me a space in my day to breathe, take a walk, actually eat. That let’s me re-energize for the second part of the day. I am working on trying to get to bed earlier but am notorious in my family for falling asleep on the couch. No one wants to watch a show with me at this point!




What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The top three qualities that I think helps entrepreneurs succeed are curiosity, empathy, and critical thinking.

The ability to step back and assess situations or problems critically, with curiosity and empathy for the different perspectives present, helps you gather important information in order to make good decisions. It also helps you recover from decisions that didn’t turn out well.



What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Authoritive?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everything takes longer than you expect it to so it’s best to just accept that and build it into your models.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was starting out, working in publishing, an editor I really looked up to was working with a brilliant but unconventional writer. I asked how he navigated editing such a complicated text. He told a story about the editing that really stuck with me- there was a list of names in the book that he felt was too long for the reader to recall, so he suggested cutting it down to only a few so it would be easier to absorb. When the book was redelivered the list was three times as long. The point wasn’t to recall the names. His job as the editor was to ask the questions, not to solve the problem, so the writer can craft solutions that reflect their intention. I’ve thought about that in mentoring people or managing processes, that my role is not to find the solution to every problem. It’s to ask the right questions.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I read a ton- books, articles, newsletters. I listen to podcasts. I spend time with my kids and husband. I love seeing movies but I’m out of the habit now because of COVID.


Who Is Your Role Model?

My current role model is Alexander Vindman. He lives a life that is principled and loving, courageous and hardworking. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him and my admiration is even deeper.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The days are long but the years are short.”

It’s from my friend and longtime collaborator Gretchen Rubin. It is a perfect reminder of the duality of life, both fast and slow, and how important it is to be really present.


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

My kids are both studying US history- high school and middle school level- and it is shocking to see how many issues in the late 1800s are still pervasive issues today. We’re living through a particularly dangerous moment for the world, but we’ve been in dangerous times before and wiser people have prevailed. I’m holding on to my optimism, while working hard to see the world as it is, which is the only way to help make it better.


What Does Success Mean To You?

For me success is about having agency, the ability to choose how I spend my time and what I give my attention to and it means having the resources to support other people reach their potential. We’re not supposed to define success in financial terms, but I find that only people with a lot of money pretend that money doesn’t play a role in how they define success. For me, having started out without it, achieving financial stability was an important part of feeling successful.

 Christy Fletcher’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Creativity Inc., by Ed Catmull

2. The Captain Class, by Sam Walker (by my husband, but objectively brilliant)

3. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

Health & Fitness:

1. Walking

2. LMNT

3. I have a new GoRuck sack I’m going to test out soon.

Brands:

1. Athleta has the best, softest yoga pants

2. Nili Lotan

3. Me + Em for summer clothes

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. Airpods

3. Altoids

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Smartless (podcast)

2. CreatorEconomy.so (Peter Yang’s substack)

3. Divinations (by Nathan Bashaw, founder of Every)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Bermuda

2. Copenhagen

3. Thailand

- What I Found
Andrew Luong | Doorvest

ANDREW LUONG

Co-Founder & CEO of Doorvest, a modern, frictionless way to own income generating homes entirely online.


What Is Doorvest? Tell Us All About Your Company And Mission.

90% of the world's millionaires have attributed their wealth to real estate investing, yet homeownership rates have declined to all-time lows. This unfortunate reality is due to the time commitment and friction of the traditional process and the capital barrier due to rising home values, stagnant wages, and mounting student loan debt. Similar to other high-quality assets, everyday investors have been locked out of the #1 most favored investment asset class, real estate. This is why we built Doorvest.

Doorvest is the first end-to-end real estate investment platform with a mission to advance financial security for all via ownership of out-of-state rental properties.

Doorvest lives at the intersection between technology and real estate by providing an all-in-one solution, eliminating the most painful steps for the end customer. We mitigate risk from the customer's perspective by providing extensive renovations to deliver a new home. In addition, we've aligned our pricing with our customers to ensure we're both working towards the same goal: a long-term and successful investment property with a series of guarantees that fosters a stress-free and happy customer.

In traditional real estate investing, the end-to-end timeline is 6 months with at least 26 steps for a customer to comb through. Doorvest does it in 12 steps, half the time. We also emphasize pricing transparency. This means home prices are set to effectively remove the traditional bidding wars and simplify the process overall for old and new homeowners.

In the end, a customer receives a completely renovated home with a first-year rental and maintenance guarantee, an average cash-on-cash return of 6% while still capturing tax and equity advantages that generate passive income from day 1.





What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Doorvest is an organic embodiment of many of our team's backgrounds. Personally, I grew up middle class. Never truly financially secure, I saw firsthand the downside of financial instability and how it jeopardized my family unit. As I grew up, those memories stuck with me and shaped my path working in sales and partnerships. This led me to real estate investing as an avenue to generate passive income and build a long-term nest egg. I was fortunate enough to build a small portfolio with a small starting capital, and friends around me began to take notice. There was never a singular platform that I could point them towards to make it easier for friends to get started, so Doorvest became the embodiment of that.

The name Doorvest derives from the idea of investors investing in front doors. I do remember a funny story about our name – When I first secured the domain for doorvest.com, someone offered me $500 to buy the domain. At the time, we had no traction and no customers, so I thought this was a funny way to make some extra bucks if the name didn't stick.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding varies by round. We've raised close to $18M in equity to date and $25M in debt to fund the real estate part of the business. Most recently, we had our Series A round and that was focused on market expansion and bringing on more awesome team members to support the increased scope of the business. Ultimately, driving growth in the business and growth in new customers/ homeowners.  


Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

In the traditional sense, Justin Kasad is my Co-Founder and CTO of Doorvest. The company, however, went through multiple iterations, and every time was a new founding moment. As such, I see all of the team members as co-founders as they played a pivotal role in those times. Moving forward, I imagine having more founding moments as we track down the road to advancing financial security for all.




What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

This journey - with Doorvest - is the most rewarding thing I've ever attempted in my life. The ability to serve lots and lots of customers and build an excellent work culture that has folks excited to work every day are some of the things I find most rewarding. Seeing our progress so far gives me a lot of optimism for the future ahead. From a challenge standpoint, it depends on the chapter and what's happening worldwide. One of the biggest challenges I dealt with was our 1st round of funding, getting enough cash to get the business off the ground, and it took us 5 months fighting tooth and nail for every dollar. Many times, we didn't think we could get enough cash to get Doorvest off the ground. Recently, one of the most challenging times was ensuring the company is rowing in the same direction, and alignment takes a lot of work.



How Has Recent Housing Supply Shortages Impacted Business For Doorvest? How Has COVID-19 Impacted Doorvest Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-to-day Operations?

In short, this made all of our jobs harder. With the lack of supply, there will be more competition and rising home values that compress customer yield, which ultimately leads to fewer homes that attract customers than before. Such conditions pressed us to be more creative in acquiring homes that would guarantee attraction. We have lots of optimism ahead because the real estate market will soften at some point - meaning less competition and allowing us to offer our customers increasingly higher yields and investments. Our team has managed to combat these challenges by carrying out quick and consistent sprints that are sustainable for the long run. 


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

In 2022 alone, we introduced a home matching algorithm called Doormatch. Doormatch takes customers' investment criteria and automatically matches their preferences to the ideal investment home. We also revamped the path to access Doorvest home profiles and how to easily reserve homes of interest. Most importantly, we expanded into 3 new markets: Atlanta, San Antonio, and recently, Oklahoma City. Be on the lookout for more expansions as we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My day starts around 7 in the morning. Get up, meditate, drink some coffee or work out, hit the shower, and get ready for the work day. Work begins around 8:30-9 am and runs until 6:30 pm. Then I log off, grab dinner and rinse and repeat. This schedule varies by day as sometimes I'll do another hour or two in the evenings. But ultimately, my schedule is the same every day for 5 workdays. Fridays and Saturdays are my off days where I intentionally stay away from email and Slack. Initially, I deleted the email app on my phone because I found myself constantly opening emails and scrolling, and there's a mental stimulation that goes on even when I wasn't replying to those emails. On Sundays, I'll work another 2-4 hours to clean up my inbox and give myself a soft start to the week ahead. This routine has given me the right balance to stay energetic, and I believe energy is essential to perform at the highest levels for the long run consistently.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

It's essential to have a strong understanding of your purpose and your "why." There are many ups and downs in startup environments, so having a clear Northstar that you are working towards is critical, especially in downtimes. Also, it's vital to ensure that you and your team are resilient and can handle questions like: How do we, as a team/ as a company, withstand outside conditions? How do we ensure we can consistently build despite changing, uncontrollable circumstances? 



What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Doorvest?

It's very, very hard to build a business. There are tactical and psychological learnings, but when outside conditions constantly evolve, and you are working to bring a platform into existence that's never done before, it's inevitably really hard. Many team members would agree. The upside is the magnitude of how rewarding it feels to have brought something to life. 


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Ferriss is the first that comes to mind. Tim Ferriss' books have fundamentally shaped how I view life, work, personal finances, and lifestyle design. 



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

"Your problems never cease, they just change." 

At first glance, the quote sounds morbid with your life having problems consistently. But if you take a step back, challenges/ struggles/ problems are inevitability human life. The disconnect here is people tend to think they live an unhappy life until they get a new shiny car, get a new job, make X amount of money, marry a beautiful spouse, etc., and all of their problems will go away. The reality is as soon as you arrive at those milestones, you will want and face new challenges, and enough will never be enough. The goal is to enjoy the journey vs. the destination. 


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

We are very optimistic about the future despite turbulent market conditions. As mentioned earlier, we have successfully made progress despite many headwinds within a competitive housing market. As the market softens, it’s Doorvest’s chance to play offense and provide customers with more stability in their investments and income streams. And ultimately, build an increasingly bigger business.  


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success means three things for me: 

Success means driving the most meaningful impact for as many people as possible - how can Doorvest create more homeowners and increase the speed of homeownership? How can we partner with our customers as they build their investment portfolios, go on their financial journey to freedom, enter retirement, and live off these income streams? 

Success is our team. How can Doorvest, as a company, also cultivate an environment where members can feel supported and grow? 

Success is building a meaningful business that drives a solid financial return for all of our stakeholders (as we have quite a few investors in the company, and it was intentionally designed as such). 

 Andrew Luong’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. 4-Hour Week by Tim Ferriss. Topics mentioned in this book has shaped by life

2. Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke. Annie was a professional poker player, and she talks about the psychology of non-binary decisions. What this means is you can make the wrong decision and have the right outcome or you can make the right decision and make the right outcome. The importance here is being able to determine whether or not the decision made at the time was right or not. 

3. Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book talks about the importance of feedback loops and how to build trusts and deep relationships. Knowledge here can be taken into the workplace and be utilized in life as well. 

Health & Fitness:

1. Ooler Chilipad. I invested a bit in this product- it’s a heating and cooling topper for my bed. It uses heat to help put you to sleep and cools down to bring your body temperature to an ideal temperature for an optimal sleep quality. Then it uses heat again to wake you up in the morning.

2. WHOOP. It tracks my sleep and daily HRV (heart rate variability), particularly what stress does to my HRV over time. It’s really interesting to learn what inputs led to these outputs. For example, don’t drink before you go to bed because they’ll mess up your recover and sleep quality. 

3. Barry's Bootcamp. I do it once a week. It’s fun to do a high intensity interval training, especially when doing with our group at work.

Products:

1. Top of mind is Athletic Greens. I don’t usually like to eat a lot of vegetables so this is a great way to check off my daily vitamins and greens intake. 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Tim Ferriss Show

2. The All-In Podcast (covers everything from politics to economy, startups to venture, etc.)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Up next, I would like to go back to Vietnam. I’ve been there before but it would be great to return with my girlfriend as both of our parents are from there. It’ll be really exciting to have this immersive experience together. 

2. Perhaps sometime next year, I would like to visit Italy. There’s something about the country that feels so idyllic. Renting a convertible and driving the Southern Coast, or renting a boat and enjoy a beautiful day on the lake. 

- What I Found
Steven Zhou | Moov

STEVEN ZHOU

Co-Founder & CEO of Moov, the fastest growing marketplace for used manufacturing equipment in the world.

What Is Moov? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And About The Types Of Companies That Are Your Customers.

At Moov, our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible to buy and sell pre-owned manufacturing equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments, through our digital marketplace.

Our customers are primarily semiconductor manufacturers, and sometimes equipment refurbishers and brokers. Our customers look to Moov for a trustworthy, reliable, and transparent alternative to the 12-24 month wait times for buying new equipment. We are building a unified global secondary market for supply-chain critical equipment where none exists today – and the historical options for buying used equipment have been plagued with inefficiencies, bad actors, and inaccurate information. With Moov, chipmakers need only to search our global marketplace for the exact tools they need, choose from validated listings from pre-vetted suppliers, purchase their tool, and enjoy an ecosystem of aftermarket service providers to make every aspect of buying equipment - from financing through logistics - seamless.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m originally from Los Angeles, studied Economics at University of California, San Diego, and started my career working in M&A focusing on Industrials, Semiconductors, and Aerospace and Defense. I was attracted to the massive economy that underpins all of the technology we take for granted in our everyday lives and decided to focus on the semiconductor industry, specifically semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Prior to Moov, I spent over a decade in the semiconductor industry, holding senior management roles overseeing deal cycles at two asset trading firms. While working in the industry, my co-founder, Maxam Yeung, and I were struck by the antiquated processes used to buy and sell six-figure high tech manufacturing equipment, and the inefficiencies these processes created. In late 2017, we decided to start Moov to bring automation and digitization to the semiconductor manufacturing equipment supply chain.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The honest answer is that I had a vivid dream during the early days, and a cow came out and said “Moooov!” But when I woke up, my co-founder and I realized that “Moov” is also a play on “moving” equipment but also speaks to our culture of getting things done. We’re not just moving equipment – we are growing an entire secondary market, and in doing so, moving an entire industry toward a more sustainable supply chain.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The most challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey has been learning to say no. Whether it’s an oversubscribed round, a firehose of ideas for our product roadmap, or simply too many appointments on my calendar, I have learned that prioritization is the number one challenge I face as the CEO of a fast-growing company. I have also learned that prioritization is the most critical element to sustainable growth. On the flip side of this coin, hiring rockstars and watching them grow in their roles and help grow Moov in new ways has been one of my favorite parts of the entrepreneurial journey.

One challenging and exciting moment for Moov was relocating our headquarters from San Francisco to greater Phoenix, Arizona in 2020. At the time, we knew the future of semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. was outside of Silicon Valley – in a network of up-and-coming tech hubs across the country. However, relocating is always challenging – we didn’t know what to expect when it came to hiring in the market, office space, the local technology community culture, etc. That said, I can honestly say that moving to Tempe, Arizona was one of the best moves we have made as a company. Not only are we at the center of a burgeoning semiconductor hub, but also I truly believe that the locations like greater Phoenix, and Austin, TX where we just opened an office this year, will continue to attract top-notch talent due to the better quality of life they offer.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In business, and fundraising, timing is critical. When my co-founder, Max, and I went to raise our seed round, we were ahead of the curve for our industry. Despite being the namesake of Silicon Valley, at the end of 2016 venture capital investment in the semiconductor industry was stagnant, hovering around $1.5bn since 2000 (Pitchbook). As of 2021 year end, that number jumped 400% to $7.8bn.

The primary challenge in raising seed funding was to convince investors of our vision to bring the same data and automation used to drive efficiency across other industries to the semiconductor capital equipment supply chain. We were successful in doing so, and actually ended up having to turn down investors in an oversubscribed round led by NFX with participation by Decent Capital, David Adelman’s Darco Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and several notable angel investors. We welcomed a few strategic investors for a bridge round in 2020 including Mark Cuban, and Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, co-founders of Flatiron Health.

We used our initial funding to bring on great talent, build our platform, and grow our marketplace to over $1 billion in gross merchandise value of listings.

When we went to raise our series A in 2021, the world was in critical need of nimble solutions to combat supply chain disruptions and chip shortages. Although we received several Tier 1 term sheets, we ended up closing $41 million Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Other notable investors included public semiconductor investor Gavin Baker of Atreides Management, Valor Equity Partners, Avenir Growth Fund and existing investors. We used these funds to expand operations both in the US and globally, to further ensure semiconductor manufacturers have access to alternative supply sources for capital equipment.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything New And Exciting Launching Soon?

Growth has been exponential over the last year. We recently announced an industry-changing buy-back guarantee policy to de-risk these 6-figure purchases. This is a game-changer for the industry, and the only such policy that exists when buying secondhand equipment. Risk and reliability is the number one barrier to growing the secondary market – with this announcement, Moov is removing that barrier.



How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

When we started Moov in 2017, we knew the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain was broken, but we did not predict the global chip shortages that have plagued our industry for the past year and show no sign of abating. Supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and natural disasters coupled with a surge in end market demand has created a global chip shortage, the likes of which the world has never experienced. These events serve to underscore the dire need for more flexible sourcing options for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. We started Moov to add transparency, accountability, and reliability to the secondary market for manufacturing equipment, and in doing so, help ease barrier to entry for small to midsize manufacturers, allow manufacturers to more nimbly respond to global trends, and promote the recirculation of equipment to support environmentally sustainable manufacturing – these goals are even more relevant and critical today than they were 5 years ago.

Moov has hundreds of buyers and sellers, yet there are still roughly 10 million factories globally with unmet equipment needs and surplus equipment for sale. Recent supply chain disruptions and a global chip shortage have only served to accelerate our growth.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

Lately, it is hard to think of my days as “typical” since I’ve been doing a lot of traveling between our booming headquarters in Phoenix, our brand new office in Austin, TX, and Northern and Southern California, the location of several industry partners, employees, and investors.

When I’m not catching a flight, my day usually begins with a double espresso shot and a morning workout. I’m a big believer in “healthy body, healthy mind”, so I try to make exercise a part of my daily routine no matter how busy I am. I tend to optimize my mornings toward execution-heavy tasks and deadlines, and tackle creative or strategic thinking in the afternoon.

The role of a CEO is really that of Chief Enabler. I spend a significant chunk of each day in listening mode, getting feedback from my talented colleagues across the company, and identifying ways I can remove roadblocks to their success.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Adaptability, Humility, and Drive.

Advice for entrepreneurs just starting out:

Think about value creation in every interaction you have. Whether you’re hiring employees, raising funds, securing customers or partners, you’ll never go wrong if you approach engagements from a mindset of creating mutual benefit.

Surround yourself with people you trust. Then trust them. As a founder, it’s both incredibly hard and incredibly important to take a step back. In the early days, you will wear every hat for your company. You will set the product roadmap, you will be the chief marketer, you’ll be at every sales meeting, be involved in every deal. You will be a graphic designer, an accountant, heck you’ll even be the office maintenance manager and sometimes IT consultant. Now repeat after me: this won’t scale. An important part of growth is bringing in new talent, new ideas, and trusting the people you hire can do the roles you hired them for better than you can.

Perfection is the enemy of progress. As an entrepreneur, it’s likely someone has already quoted Winston Churchill to you, but it’s time to listen. At Moov, we use the 80/20 rule as a general barometer for problem solving. Solve 80% of the problem now, and the rest will come with time and iteration. I can tell you first hand that if we had worried about perfection at Moov, we would not have grown from zero to a marketplace with over $1bn in GMV in under four years.



Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

The impact of growing a secondary market for capital equipment cannot be understated – doing so will help solve global supply chain shortages, create jobs in manufacturing hubs across the U.S., and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable high tech manufacturing industry.

As a company, Moov contributes to a more environmentally sustainable manufacturing industry – saving ~1MM lbs of scrap from hitting landfills or sitting idle in warehouses every year. Recirculation of capital equipment is an achievable and important part of the circular economy.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success, for me and for Moov, means creating something that the world truly needs. At Moov, we don’t use words like disruption because our intention is not to interrupt an industry, but instead to use our humble listening skills, our own experiences in the industry, and the technology we’ve built to create value for our partners and customers. Success, for us, means that every decision we make creates value for all parties involved.

“Changing the world” is an often satirized goal of Silicon Valley founders. But, at Moov, global impact has a very specific meaning. Our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible and easy to buy and sell pre-owned equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments. When we succeed, our success won’t be localized to Silicon Valley, to the United States, to North America, but will truly drive forward global trade and innovation.

This, for me personally and for Moov as a company, is the meaning of success.

 
- What I Found
Monish Sabnani | Courant

MONISH SABNANI

Co-Founder of Courant, a company that creates beautiful tech accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life.

What Is Courant? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

Courant is a design-forward electronics brand with a focus on wireless charging. We create beautiful phone charging accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life. Each product form is designed to be effortless in use and aesthetically pleasing.

We launched in 2018 and have 3 core product forms: CATCH:1, a single-device charger; CATCH:2, a multi-device charger; and CATCH:3, a valet tray charger. We’ve also created two unique collections of materials: our “Classics” collection which features Italian leather and high-grade aluminum, and our “Essentials” collection, which comes with Belgian linen and soft-touch plastic.

Our goal is to power your life and the devices you use most.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Evan (Co-founder) & I met back in 2017 at a consumer goods platform & incubator called “Very Great”. This was an interesting time because the 2 founders of Very Great were looking to expand their portfolio of brands. Together we all got excited about the electronics category, and in particular the trend of wireless phone charging which was starting to emerge across Apple and Samsung products. At the time the technology was incredibly exciting, but there were no brands or really any products that spoke to today’s modern, digitally savvy consumer. The existing marketplace of products were made of plastic, didn’t have a color story, and really no brand appeal whatsoever. At the end of 2017, we began researching opportunities and discovered a wide-open landscape in the wireless charging category to launch Courant into.

We launched Courant’s first two products (CATCH:1 and CATCH:3) in August 2018 at the NY Now tradeshow and have since grown into an eight-figure business. A few weeks after the launch we were prominently featured in Oprah’s “Favorite Things” and Gwenyth Paltrow’s “Goop” holiday gift guides, which really gave us an opportunity to shine on a national level. From there we started building the business, brick by brick. Today, Courant’s products are widely distributed online and in-store at retailers such as West Elm, CB2, Design Within Reach, Best Buy, Bed Bath Beyond, Container Store and more. It’s been an exciting journey!



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I was raised in Hong Kong with a background in Chinese manufacturing, which my family has been involved in for over thirty years. Evan’s expertise is largely in brand operations for consumer product companies. He calls me the left brain and him the right brain. I mainly oversee our e-comm, marketing & brand, product development and finance. He focuses mostly on sales, international operations, warehousing and legal. By having diversified backgrounds and skill sets we’re able to balance each other out and supplement each other in a way that makes our business stronger. 



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The name Courant comes from ‘Au Courant’, a French saying that means “in the know” or “up to speed on current trends”—or literally ‘current’—which is both a reference to an object being relevant to the times as well as an electrical current. We wanted something literal, but not clunky or ‘techy’.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The last few years have truly been so interesting from a macro perspective. COVID in particular was something that we could have never prepared for, especially this early in our career. It came with a multitude of challenges: supply chain disruptions, chip shortages, freight price volatility, labor shortages in the US, and the list goes on…It was (and still is) a steep learning curve on both a professional and personal level. It’s funny, we started off with a mission to create a unique electronics brand, and today we are crisis-level experts on supply chain. I’ve learned all kinds of things that I never expected to. That really is the beauty of the experience. On the flip side, the challenges are taking in all this new information and dealing with it in-real time, at a high-stakes level.


Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And Manufacturing Process? What Makes Courant Unique Amongst The Competing Wireless Charging Products On The Market?

We design all of our products in-house, drawing inspiration from interior design concepts and materials used for home accessories like side tables, couches and lamps. We look at everything we do, whether it’s product design, web design, and photo/video styling as an opportunity to stand outside of the traditional ‘consumer electronics’ industry aesthetic. Courant’s design DNA, at its core, is the intersection of technology, interior-design, fashion and “culture”, which we define as modern trends and social movements.

Principal to our product design and development is material selection. We’ve created a layered supply-chain that involves producing materials from both Italy and Belgium, which then get shipped and assembled in China. Our linen supplier is 100% carbon neutral and uses solar power as the primary driver to their facility. Our leather supplier is “Gold-rated”, which is a standard tracking energy and water consumption, as well as worker safety. It’s all very modern and adds extra layers of complexity (and cost), but it is key to what we’re doing. Most tech companies at our scale build products with cheap components, leaving consumers with products that quickly become physically and aesthetically obsolete. We have honed in on aspects such as design, but combine them with modern manufacturing to create products that we ourselves are comfortable with and want to use.


Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

We’re launching our first few magnetic chargers later this summer. The magnetic chargers are very exciting for us as it’s our first foray into a new user experience to pair with Apple’s MagSafe phones (iPhone 12 onwards). We believe this will be the new charging standard for several years and have spent almost 2 years developing our magnetic collection. 


How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

COVID-19 brought on widespread supply chain lock downs and disruption, which meant that we needed to be as flexible and agile as possible in order to survive. The chip shortage of 2020-21 in particular was a big issue for us. We were presented the situation back in March of 2021, which was that our core chip component lead time was going from 1 month to 6 months. We moved quickly to purchase a year's worth of chips upfront and hold stock. As I reflect on that time, we were fortunate to have the advantage of being a small team, which allowed us to make decisions quickly, rather than having to deal with the time-consuming process of a larger corporate hierarchy structure. We also had the financial support of the wider Very Great platform which enabled us to make swift and bold business moves, which might have been too risky otherwise. It’s moments like that which allowed us to sustain and grow our business despite the challenges that COVID-19 threw our way.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

We’re both fully remote, which is something we’ve both come to love over time. The mornings and afternoons are typically pretty heavy on calls, i.e. touchbases with the team, working sessions, talking to different vendors and partners. It’s usually in the evening when we both get some down time to work in silence and put our heads down to focus on bigger picture planning. I love the night session - it really is the most productive time for me.

Tips? Honestly, something we’ve come to lean into is that the standard “9-6” work life at a desk is completely over. Everyone has a unique life filled with different responsibilities and priorities. We empower each other and our team to integrate work and life so that they can thrive off of flexibility, not restriction. If you have to make an appointment at 2pm on Monday, please do. We’re both integrating our life and work into one lifestyle, 7 days a week. There is no pressure to be “online” all day. This is a huge unlock and allows us to work on our personal life as much as our professional life.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Perseverance - the road ahead is tough and not for the faint hearted. The #1 thing I’ve learned is to put your head down and push through. The hard work that most people avoid is often the beauty of the job.

Equanimity - Don’t get too high during the highs, and don’t get too low during the lows. Find a cool, calm middle ground and operate in that bubble.

Read, a lot - to quote Charlie Munger: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads--and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” There is no better way to absorb information than reading.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Getting direct personal feedback on my communication skills both professionally and personally has really helped me grow. Sometimes we don’t want to hear our truth because it is uncomfortable and hurtful. But when you can actively take feedback and grow from your peers I think that is a huge advantage. There is so much to learn about communication skills. I also try to give feedback to the people I care about.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Cook - 1) because Apple is my favorite company of all time and has been since I was a teenager, and 2) because I’d love to personally introduce him to what we’re doing over at Courant.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I would have to share two: Barack Obama, for his grace, and Kobe Bryant, for his work ethic. Both are (were) also incredible parents to their kids, which I have the utmost respect for when you have had the careers that they did.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I love to go for long walks with a podcast in-ear, play basketball, surf in the summers and read as much as possible. What I read: autobiographies (if you have a cool story I want to know about it), and a lot of newsletters, blogs and Twitter threads. I also have a particular interest in web3/blockchain and find everything being built in that space incredibly fascinating. One of my best friends is a partner at Andreesen Horowitz and I’m constantly bugging him with questions. 


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The journey is the reward” - Steve Jobs

We often work so hard towards an end goal and wind up missing everything in between. I really believe that life is not about the big moments, but all the little, unforgettable moments. If you can celebrate the small wins and appreciate the most mundane of tasks I think you’ll find the ultimate happiness. 


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

There’s obviously a lot going on right now between inflation, US & China relations, and the crisis in Ukraine. Fundamentally we are the type of people to play the long game. While it’s easy to get frantic over the day-to-day news cycle, we’re very bullish on the future of everything. If that core belief ever changed I would radically change what I was doing on a daily basis. I probably would not be in business. 


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = flexibility. All too often we want to do things but are restricted. I’ll know I’m successful when I have the ultimate decision making ability to do most things (within reason), whether that be personally or professionally.

 Monish Sabnani’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. No Rules Rules- Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) on how to build an innovative, disruptive corporate culture

2. Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama’s origin story, written pre politics

3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike- Phil Knight’s founding story of Nike. A must read for all entrepreneurs

Health & Fitness:

1. Steps, every day. I aim for 8-10K

2. Strength training - I try to get 2 full body workouts in a week

3. Basketball - Pickup in Brooklyn, as much as I can

Brands:

1. Lululemon pants have totally replaced jeans in my life. I wear them everyday

2. Stance long compression stocks 

3. Hoodies, all the time

Products:

1. AirPods Pro

2. Lululemon Black Pants

3. Trader Joes Milk Chocolate Pretzels (!)

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Leanluxe & 2PM (Ecomm newsletters)

2. All-In Podcast (General macro news & investing)

3. How I Built This (Founder-driven, entrepreneurial storytelling podcast)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Hawaii surf trip

2. Tel Aviv

3. Buenos Aires

4. Cape Town



- What I Found
Casey Klugman | Les Monts

CASEY KLUGMAN

Founder of Les Monts, a new luxury handcrafted sunglasses company.


What Is Les Monts? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

I’ve always had an affinity for handmade goods. To me, there’s warmth that emanates from handmade goods. They have subtle imperfections which make them unique – something you don’t necessarily get from mass-produced products. In light of this affinity, I wanted Les Monts to be a handmade, limited-edition collection. Utilizing an array of handpicked, highly considered materials, Les Monts frames are brought to life by the hands of experienced Italian craftsmen who take great pride in their work.

Les Monts is geared towards creative individuals – specifically those who push the creative boundaries in their respective fields. However, the brand recognizes any individual in pursuit of a lofty personal goal. In French, Les Monts means “the mountains”. As the brand’s namesake, mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our handmade goods themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line. Each of our limited-edition spectacles is a testament to those who have been fearless in their personal endeavors; and, to those who are at the beginning of their journey, a pair can ignite the courage to take that next step.

I think today more than ever, it’s important for a brand to have genuine purpose and good intentions. Throughout my life, there have been a number of important people who have at some point, in some capacity, struggled with their mental health. There are times when I haven’t been in the best headspace, too. So, my decision to partner with Mental Health America was one which came quite naturally. I wanted to honor anybody who has ever been affected by a mental health condition – directly or indirectly. This partnership is important to the brand as anything else. My hope is that Les Monts can transcend traditional brand ideologies, and become a beacon of optimism that inspires.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I was born in New Jersey in the early 90s. My late grandfather, who was a dentist and an amateur artist himself, got me involved in art at a very young age. From elementary school through high school, art was the one subject I really excelled in. At some point in junior high school, I developed an interest in fashion. It started with sneakers - I was collecting “Nike Dunks” at the time. Like eyewear, footwear can tell a story about the person wearing it - I still love that about footwear. As my affinity for sneaker culture grew, I began illustrating sneaker designs and concepts of my own. I had sketchbooks full of illustrations. But, before I left to study Art & Design at the University of Michigan, my father – who I am very close with – gifted me a pair of his vintage sunglasses. For me it was the ultimate heirloom. I cherished these sunglasses – I admired everything about them. From that day forward, I was no longer illustrating sneakers, I was illustrating eyewear. I graduated from University of Michigan – School of Art & Design in the spring of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a job to design eyewear for Ted Baker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the job I held for five years. But, in the back of my head, I knew my ultimate goal was to one day have my own collection. In October of 2020, I decided the time was “now” and resigned from my day-job. Since then, I’ve been working on bringing my own brand to market, and that vision recently became reality. My brand, Les Monts, went live on April 20th of this year.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

One of the coolest parts about starting your own brand is you get to decide what story you want to tell through your products. If there’s a group of people you want to empower, or a cause you’d like to raise awareness for, all of those choices are yours. My late grandmother was born and raised in rural France. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was about 13 years old – long before she and I had the chance to connect on an adult level. There’s a lot happening in my life right now. I’ve just started a business, my girlfriend and I recently moved in together; there are so many conversations I wish I could have with her today. So, I decided to give my brand a French name, to pay homage to my late grandmother. As I mentioned earlier the mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our wearables themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I think what I’ve enjoyed most about this journey is the creative freedom it’s afforded me. I was designing for another brand for 5 years. During that time, I didn’t have full creative freedom. I had to adhere to the vision of another brand. Having the creative freedom to execute my own design vision, and tell a story through my brand has been completely invigorating.

The most challenging part of the journey, and the component I struggled with most, occurred during the first few months on my own. At my former employer, I rarely had downtime in the office. There were many days I’d go into work, put my head down, and not lift it until 6:30pm. I kind of liked that - it always made the day go faster, plus I’d feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My first few months of self-employment proved to be a major adjustment period. I had to accept to the fact that things were going to move a lot slower – at least initially. Naturally, a project like this takes time to develop. So, going from a very fast-paced environment, to the slow-burning, very early stages of a start-up, was a challenge for me.

The most exciting part of my work has always been receiving samples or the final product. I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for excellent craftsmanship. The craftsmen I work with in Italy are extraordinarily talented. Their handcrafted products are beautifully made. When I receive their products for the first time, there’s a moment of admiration – almost like seeing a piece of art. It’s a moment that never gets old.



Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And/or Manufacturing Process? What Makes Les Monts Frames Stand Out Above The Rest?

I think there are two philosophies when it comes to designing and manufacturing. The first is probably the most common – especially in the realm of corporate fashion. This process consists of designing a product, and then modifying it to meet, or increase margin. The other philosophy is the approach I’ve taken with Les Monts. When I started out, I had a vision for what I wanted to produce. Based on my previous work experience, I knew the product I wanted to create would be expensive and require a great deal of expertise to produce. Rather than water down my vision, I said to the factory, “This is the product I want to make. These are the details; these are the materials I want to use. Please let me know how much it will cost to produce a pair, and I’ll figure out what I need to sell it for.” I think if you believe in your product, this is the approach that makes sense. At the end of the day, you want to bring your idea to life. You don’t want to bring 50% of an idea to life. Les Monts spectacles incorporate over 200 steps, and can take nearly a half year to produce. We only produce 100 pieces or less of a given style – which is an extremely limited amount. Many factories will not agree to produce quantities that small. Once a style is sold out, it is no longer produced. We place a very heavy emphasis on the handcrafted nature of our frames; it’s what makes our glasses a cut above the rest. However, the true beauty of a Les Monts frame comes from the fact that it is an imperfect object. When you produce things by hand, there are inherent differences from piece to piece. These differences or imperfections are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, but it’s part of what makes a Les Monts frame an object to be desired. Our frames are not mass-produced objects, cold off of an assembly line. They have a warmth and a story to tell.


Tell Us About Your Go-to Market Strategy. Do You See Les Monts Being Exclusively Sold Online, Or Also Launching Retail Stores Similar To Warby Parker?

For the moment, I am direct to consumer through www.lesmonts.com. However, I will be working hard on getting Les Monts into select stores in the coming months. I’ve designed for other brands in the past. In my honest opinion, Les Monts eyewear looks and feels distinctly different from other eyewear. Because of this, it’s very important that customers have the ability to pick up my products and experience them in person. There’s so much value in that experience. All of our frames are produced in very small quantities, so our eyewear will likely be placed in boutiques and maybe one select retailer. Stay tuned!

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

During the week I go to sleep late - around 12:30-1:00am. Because of that, I typically wake-up around 8:20am. I love sleeping in, but that’s about as late as I can sleep during the week. Because I’m communicating with my partners in Italy on a daily basis, and there’s a +6 hour time difference, I can’t afford to sleep past 8:30am. Once, I wake up – it’s an immediate cup of coffee. I then sit at my desk and take care of all urgent emails – prioritizing the emails that are affected by a time difference. Once urgencies are out of the way, I’ll make the bed, shower, and listen to sports talk radio, namely, The Dan Patrick Show. Then it’s back to work until around 12:45, at which point I take my dog for a walk. Then it’s back to work for the rest of the day. I like to get a Peloton session in at the end of the day to clear my head, though admittedly, I’ve been bad about it lately. I do find that it clears my head, even if I get on the bike for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day. For me, the best way I know to stay productive is by setting goals. I like to set goals by the day, week, and month. By constantly setting goals, and hopefully meeting those goals, I feel accomplished and hungry when I wake up each day.




What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Flexibility - Flexibility is key. Today, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. As an entrepreneur, it’s never been more important to stay flexible and adaptive. For creative endeavors, the importance of flexibility cannot be underestimated. Rigidity can quickly kill a brand and a product. So, listen to feedback and don’t be afraid to pivot. Let your concepts evolve!

Decisiveness - More is lost by indecision than the wrong decision. When you’re starting out, you’re probably going to make the wrong decision more than once. That’s ok – especially if you’re able to learn from your mistakes. In my experience, indecision always has a more negative impact than a wrong decision. You can take time to make a big decision, but be mindful of how much time you have and then make your decision – don’t prolong it.

Patience - Good things take time to come to fruition. That’s a big part of the branding behind Les Monts. Building a business requires persistence, endurance and patience. It takes a lot of time and effort. So, it’s natural to want results right away – but that’s rarely the case. While you want to remain on top of things, being is key to keeping you emotionally grounded in your project.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

There’s an important lesson I’ve learned, actually from loved ones who have passed away. The lesson teaches us that our time here is limited, so we need to spend it doing what we love. I’ll use my late grandmother for example, who, by the way, is part of the inspiration for the name Les Monts. My grandmother, Jo, absolutely adored her grandchildren. Nothing brought her more joy than spending time with us. Sadly, my grandmother fell ill, and passed away before she was able to see her grandchildren reach adulthood. Impermanence is a reminder our time is limited, and we never know when “our time” is going to come. When faced with one of life’s many difficult decisions, I like to think of Jo telling me to go for it. In my experience, knowing that my time is limited sometimes makes those difficult decisions a lot easier.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

My top choice would have to be Sir Paul McCartney. I’ve always been inspired by his colorful personality and creative energy. Amazingly, I think Paul still fits the profile of my customer. He’s highly creative and he’s produced music capable of moving emotion. Great music is so powerful. Great music can inspire change, motivate you to start your own business, it can move you to tears and then build you back up. For as long as I can remember, the Beatles’ music has done for me. That’s what I want Les Monts to do for my customer. If my products become a wearable symbol of creativity, or if my brand makes people more comfortable discussing mental health conditions, it will mean that Les Monts has impacted people in an emotional context. That’s my ultimate goal. Since his music has positively and emotionally affected so many people for such an extended period of time, there’s nobody I’d rather meet with than Sir Paul.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m an artist by trade, so in my free time I love to paint. Painting is a process that has always been extremely cathartic for me. There’s nothing better than putting on music and getting lost in my work for hours. Left to my own devices, I think I would paint straight through the night. For me, it’s the type of hobby I can’t put down after I start. My painting style is very graphic and rather unconventional. If you’re familiar with Banksy, that’s kind of what my paintings look like – though they’re hand-painted rather than spray painted.



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

The late Steve Jobs made an outstanding commencement speech at the University of Stanford in 2005. In his address to the graduating class, Jobs says:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path — and that will make all the difference”.

There is so much power in this quote, because it’s delivered by Jobs shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Conscious of his mortality, Jobs’ words are a uniquely intimate retrospective. His quote suggests that it’s impossible to know whether a decision we make today will yield the results we want tomorrow. Therefore, the best way to persist in the face of doubt is by putting your trust in whatever you personally believe in. Doing so will give you confidence to follow your heart in difficult decisions, even when doubt or uncertainty are pulling you in the opposite direction.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Since starting this project, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between success and happiness. Though, the relationship I see is probably different from what most people would expect. There’s the obvious “Success = Financial Prosperity = Happiness”. I cannot confirm if that’s true. But, I have discovered a different dynamic between success and happiness, which is true for me. At this point in my life, I’m happier with my work than I’ve ever been before. I love what I’m doing – it brings me great joy. I’ve realized that in order for me to continue doing what I love, my business needs to be successful. While the meaning of success can change over time, right now, success to me means an opportunity to continue doing what I love.

 Casey Klugman’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Emotionally Durable Design, by Jonathan Chapman

2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

3. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton

2. Pick-up football with friends

3. Pick-up basketball with friends

Brands:

1. Reiss

2. Theory

3. Nike

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. iMac

3. Dyson Air Purifier

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. The Herd with Colin Cowherd

3. The Dan Patrick Show

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Southern Italy

2. Paris

3. Japan



- What I Found
Brandon Schulz | Violet
Violet-commerce-api-brandon-schulz

Brandon Schulz

Founder of Violet, a Commerce API Platform enabling any app to integrate universal checkout in weeks instead of years.


What Is Violet? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And The Types Of Companies That Use Your Services.

Violet is a unified API that allows any online channel (be it an app, a website, a game, or live stream) to connect to a brand or retailer's ecommerce backend without the need for expensive and complex integrations. We call it a “unified API” because our mission is to provide integration with any e-commerce platform through a single, unified API. So whether you’re an online influencer looking to get more purchases directly through your platform, or you’re a brand who wants to sell through more channels, all you’ll need is this API. It’s great for shoppers too because they can purchase from anywhere on the internet, with no clickout. 

Right now we’ve built integrations into leading e-commerce platforms, and are working with a wide range of customers who are creating new and exciting online experiences: influencer platforms, publishers, online shopping marketplaces. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

While Rhen and I started Violet in 2017, I’ve more or less been trying to solve the same problem for over a decade. The question driving my career has always been the same: how can we create a more open, distributed, and collaborative version of e-commerce? Specifically, what would it take for shoppers to be able to buy products directly inside social, livestream, SMS, voice, AR, VR, or any other experience developers and app companies decide to build? I happen to think the answer is Violet, but it took a while to get there.

In 2012, I co-founded a company that was basically a Hootsuite but for e-commerce products. I learned a lot on the job through that project, about how to fundraise, build a good team, talk to investors. That’s also where I first met Rhen Zabel, our Co-Founder and CTO, and Tyler Middleton, our Head of Growth. But e-commerce wasn’t mature enough for something like Violet to work.

After that, I worked for a few other larger companies in retail, and really grew as a manager and a leader. But I never stopped thinking about how to solve the problem of distributed e-commerce. Rhen was in a similar position, tackling related issues for larger companies. At each step of the way, we realized no one was solving the infrastructure layer. Eventually we just realized we had to build it ourselves once and for all and offer it as a platform.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The concept is a little science-y, but it’s based on the color spectrum: violet is the last visible color of light that we can see with the human eye. There are a bunch of different kinds of light waves beyond that, some of which we can see under an ultraviolet light, but violet is the last color you see and touch before you reach a realm of rather magical and unbelievable possibilities.

That’s exactly how our product works: we’re the last interface or infrastructure you see when conducting e-commerce at the edge: and what you see is very simple, elegant and intuitive. But what’s behind that, the backend and coordination and artistry that’s making this very simple, intuitive purchase experience possible remains invisible. You can feel it’s impact in how your purchase experience (or merchant or channel experience) improves, but what you see and interact with is Violet.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My Co-Founder is Rhen Zabel, an amazing engineer and innovator who I’ve known for over a decade now. Rhen and I actually share a birthday down to the year (same exact xx/xx/xxxx), which from the beginning felt like a very auspicious sign for how well we’d work together. I love working with Rhen for so many reasons: he’s a brilliant problem solver, and has been coding since he was 12 or 13. So it’s like getting a 20-year engineer still early in his career. He’s also just a very thoughtful person, very passionate about the environment, obsessed with sci-fi. So working with him on one level is easy just because I like him so much as a person.

As a colleague, he brings a lot to the table that compliments what I can do: our product already skews technical, but Rhen is the engineering genius behind our product. He’s incredibly discerning with his words, and has predilections to a certain type of intelligence and long-term focus that are really rare. He keeps me grounded, and is the one ensuring that we’re actually building the product I’m imagining. I often like to say that I’m driving the train, but Rhen’s the one laying the track.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Favorites:

Working with Rhen Zabel: Rhen and I have known each other for over ten years now. It’s so gratifying to build something you believe in with someone who is equally passionate and exceedingly skilled. 

Acquiring new skills at a 10x pace: You can’t not learn rapidly when you’re building your own company. It’s been 4+ years of this and it’s been really fun and invaluable in my own development. I also think that kind of learning is helping our team stay engaged.

Building teams: There’s nothing more exciting than finding people who share in your vision but bring something new to the table. It’s been the best part of the new year by far. 

Making it real: Seeing an idea that I wrote on a whiteboard in middle of 2017 finally come to fruition 4 years later…it’s my ultimate definition of success.

Seeing customers use the API and grow their businesses on it: We’ve had so many meetings with customers where they say something to the effect of “This is the exact solution I’ve been looking for. This can’t be real…” Which is exactly what we love to hear! That’s incredibly affirming and motivating as we keep having more of those conversations, and ultimately seeing our customers succeed. 

The amazing people that I’ve gotten to meet along the way: Fellow founders, investors, new teammates.

The boost from fantastic VCs: Feels so great to meet people who believe in you who are willing to invest in your idea, your dream.

Least-Liked

Being at the mercy of timing: Building something very close to my dream product 4 years ahead of time meant a long wait and long slog to build with Rhen. 

Doubt: The years of people not believing in us, resulting in self-doubt and lonely nights.

The drag from bad VCs: Being misunderstood or underestimated for what we were capable of as a team and a product.

Uphill climb: Our product comes out of a really deep understanding and love for the behind the scenes of e-commerce. We had to lay the groundwork over and over again to explain our product, as the market and understanding of the landscape took years to catch up to where we already were.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding was really terrible, until it wasn’t. We really wanted to raise from a VC firm in Seattle, where we’re from. But we didn’t take into account geographical priors and general market structure in Seattle when we set out to do that. So we got no’s from nearly every VC in Seattle. But that work just meeting with everyone eventually paid off, and once we started meeting with the right people it turned around very quickly. After we met the team at RSV (Red Sea Ventures) we then got introduced to Brian Sugar, who introduced us to Lachy Groom. And it just snowballed really beautifully from there to where we had about 45 VCs all showing a high amount of interest, to the point where our seed round was oversubscribed by about $2M. We narrowed it down to the right team, and just 90 days later Klarna made a big strategic investment to speed our growth and lead our Series A.

Since then, we’ve been focused on updating and accelerating our growth strategy quite a bit. Most of our investment now has gone towards automating processes to save time, and building a world class team. Of course there are still features and improvements we’re making to our product all the time, but right now it’s about how we can scale the excellent API we’ve worked hard to build, and reaching all the communities of potential customers we know are out there.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

Despite the learning curve with hiring, the growth has been phenomenal. It’s been such an exciting year for us. What’s really fun for us is every launch of our product is really someone else’s launch: we get to watch all kinds of online channels and experiences kick off something new in their business. We have one client in particular in stealth right now that we’ve just loved getting to work with. If you come back to us in Q2 we can share some more info there.

But really we’re seeing the reality we envisioned come to life, which is new ways for people to purchase at the edge, with more and more startups expanding into live and curated shopping in lots of new and interesting ways.




What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Violet?

Many people will tell you that recruiting is the hardest thing you’ll do when you’re starting out. And it’s even harder than they say it is.

I think for some new companies recruiting is hard because of sourcing and closing. We’re fortunate not to have that problem: we find people easily and once they’re in the funnel they’re usually excited to join.

BUT, recruiting does put a huge crunch on our bandwidth. In many ways it’s much harder to go from four to 40 people than it is to go from 40 to 400. I’d tell anyone just starting out that the moment you need to hire more than 15 people, hire a recruiter. I wish someone had said that to me, it would’ve saved a lot of headaches.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? Has The Pandemic Fueled Demand For Violet As More And More Merchants Lean On E-Commerce As Their Main Sales Channel?

COVID has had a huge impact on our business. As most people know just from surviving lockdowns, e-commerce was an industry that did very well in the pandemic. It definitively proved its utility, convenience, and potential. Every company and merchant was forced to prioritize e-commerce, basically compressing what might have been a decade of changes to infrastructure and business models in just 12 months. So what we have now is really the landscape Violet was made to serve, where you have old systems, new systems, incumbents, start-ups all trying to figure out how to sell products in this new marketing landscape. In a marketplace of millions of vendors, how do you get traction? Targeted, direct-to-consumer advertising can only get you so far, especially as regulations are changing to protect privacy. So that’s where our tool becomes vital circuitry in the new distributed model of e-commerce. As we’ve hit our stride with funding, finding customers, and growing our team, it’s proving to be a really exciting moment to be in e-commerce.



How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

E-commerce has changed significantly during and post-COVID, if we can say that at this point. While we stayed at home, everyone hopped on their computer and bought everything online. We felt this in the out-of-stock notices on websites. We felt this in the three months I waited to get the couch that I purchased. We felt this in the dramatic increase in prices corporations were able to leverage due to the product shortage.

Before the pandemic, e-commerce was still only about 15% of all retail purchases globally. That number increased dramatically, resulting in an acceleration of e-commerce penetration by anywhere from six to ten years. This means that reliance on e-commerce has increased more rapidly than anyone had expected. As a result, the pressure on the underlying infrastructure of e-commerce has increased, revealing the gaps in the ecosystem broadly, as well as in the individual platforms themselves.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I’m a big believer that we are the things we do repetitively, and don’t really buy into “tricks” for productivity. Instead, I just keep my life very goal-focused, almost treating my own output like I would a product with OKRs: What do I want to accomplish? By when? How can I measure success, and how can I fit those measurements and goals to reasonable time horizons? That may feel a bit on the nose, but it’s how I stay on task.

If I were to recommend a productivity hack, I think it’d be self-compassion. We think of high performers as being hard on themselves, but usually the very best athletes and musicians hold themselves to high standards by default, and the hard work is in understanding how to be kind to themselves and others.

All that said, in addition to work every day I make sure to focus on my mornings:

Wake before 6am

Peloton for 30 min

Stretch for 30 min

Meditate for 20 Min

Journal for 20 Min

These daily routines keep me grounded, energized, and focused on what really matters. 


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I don’t think it’s as much about what qualities you have as it is about how you approach being an entrepreneur. So many entrepreneurs today just want to immediately go out there and start a company for the sake of starting a company. I don’t recommend this. Instead, I recommend new entrepreneurs go work somewhere else first, and find the problem they’re most passionate about at that company. Too many people just start things without first understanding their space inside and out. But if you start with the problem you really care about, and learn as much as you can about that problem, you’ll know the biggest pain points for your potential customers and build by far the most compelling companies. This only happens when you’re solving real, concrete problems for people and businesses.

Today, I think the business ventures that will be the most successful will either be very niche, or combinatorial. What I mean by that is, if you look at a company like Figma, they’re solving a very specific problem, and they do it incredibly well. They’re a niche product but with wide adoption in that niche because they really understand their customer. At Violet, we’re kind of the opposite: we’re a combination of e-commerce, plus headless, plus product distribution. We’re this amalgam of other product types that have been around before, but never in this combination. In fact it was the combining of these different features that was such a technical challenge and what makes us so valuable to our customers.

We’re past the days of someone simply standing up a website and making money. The barrier to value is much higher now, and that’s where I’ve seen the best founders today accelerate past others, because they know a particular use case so well, or are able to combine things in a novel way to generate new value.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

At the age of 16 I broke my leg twice in two years, and spent three months in a wheelchair. While there were a lot of learning experiences from that, I distinctly remember one incident where I was waiting to use the restroom. The two normal stalls were empty, but the person had chosen the wheelchair accessible stall. I had to wait until they were finished. At first I was furious, and then realized that I had done this very same thing without thinking about it prior to my injury. I was frustrated after three months in a wheelchair for how that experience was overlooked by others: it was eye-opening to think about what it must be like to live a lifetime in different and sometimes more challenging circumstances.

While some things can’t be fully understood until you experience them, one can’t experience everything, and this gap is something I now think about often: How can I constantly strive to empathize with the experiences and challenges of other people, even when I can’t directly experience it myself? One of our core values at Violet is empathy, because we ultimately work better together and build better companies by being able to consider other peoples’ viewpoints. Sure, we can’t always completely understand the experiences of those around us–but that’s precisely why we always try.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Without hesitation, Barack Obama. Regardless of your politics, I feel it’s like living during the time of Abraham Lincoln and not wanting to at least sit down with them. The version of the world Barack Obama stepped into, the problems he’s faced as an individual and a leader, are in combination unprecedented. And so there are just insights, experiences, and wisdom from that that I couldn’t get from anyone else. I’d need at least an hour to talk to him about his career and life’s work.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I really like cycling, I read a lot of nonfiction, and I try to make a point of keeping up with all the Oscar-nominated films on an annual basis. But honestly, I love to learn new things and more often than not I’m applying that energy to my work. It doesn’t feel like work for me though. For me, it’s fun to spend a few hours on a weekend getting really proficient at a new tool that could help our company, because a) I’m learning something new and b) I’m working towards something I’m endlessly passionate about.

I’ve often thought it’s strange that we don’t make the same kinds of boundaries for hyper focused, dedicated artists and high performers like we do for other vocations. Like, no one would ever criticize John Mayer or Prince for playing guitar too much in their off hours, or Sue Bird for practicing on her evenings or weekends. For me, this is my craft, this is my sport. I’ve pursued other passions like music but now this is my focus, it’s what I love to do. While, I like to read and get outside like many people, I spend a great deal of my time just trying to get better at the thing I love. 



What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke


Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I stand with Ukraine.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Doing what you set out to do.

 Brandon Schulz’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt . This book changed my mind about whether people can change their minds. We are less rational than we think we are. And this book presents the foundation for this based on Moral Psychology. At the root of moral psychology is the way by which any one of us decides to do or not do something regardless of explicit rules. I found this book to be enlightening in understanding my own brain, as well as the way others come to make decisions and behave in our ever increasingly complex world.

2. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I love this book. It is a gorgeous metaphor of the magic that happens when a team locks in. It’s about a rowing crew from the University of Washington (roughly 30 min from where I live). There’s a concept in rowing called ‘swing’ that almost feels like flying over the water. It happens when everyone is pulling in the same direction, completely in sync, as a result of a kind of unification that arises out of the body of a hull with 8 individual humans catapulting forward. I want to feel this in the teams I build. The book talks through the ups and downs of the coach, the individuals, the team, and how we bring all of who we are into our boats every day. 

3. Self-Compassion by Krista Neff. Self-Compassion is about what you might expect, compassion towards oneself. It’s not a soft or wishy washy book, but one that challenges the kinds of toxic cultures we’ve inherited that we likely don’t even know are running through our brains. A lot of this book was about slowing down some of the connections my brain was making that I wasn’t even aware of. Our synapses fire so fast, and the grooves are so strong, that we rarely have the language and practices to stare at them, and evaluate whether the appropriate level of intelligence and wisdom has been integrated into the way we perceived something, how we talk to ourselves, or whether our assumptions about a situation or our performance are accurate or fair at all. 


Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton. Love my Peloton, as I love cycling. My standard approach is to use ‘Just Ride’ and listen to a podcast or book while riding to a particular cadence or output I’m wanting to work on over a period of time.

2. 12 min body weight circuit heavy on strict pull ups (Cross Fit-inspired, WOD style). I try to focus on pull ups as the core exercise involving a lot of different muscles at once, with other movements wrapped in. With our bodies, we have to use it or lose it!

3. Mud WTR. Healthy mushrooms and a bit of caffeine have been more sustainable for me.


Brands:

1. Apple: Of course.

2. Rapha: I have more Rapha gear than any one human being should own.

3. NIKE: Pretty much everything else.


Products:

1. Airpods Max

2. Smart Sweets

3. Ollipop


Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Ezra Klein Show. Especially love Ezra’s deep dives into productivity, attention, and parenting. 

2. Hidden Brain. Fascinated by behavioral economics.

3. Masters of Scale. Yep.


Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. London (my favorite city)

2. Montana (for some summer fly fishing with my partner’s family)

3. Krabi, Thailand (favorite beach)



- What I Found
Elliot Cao | Hast
elliot-cao-hast-cooking-knives

ELLIOT CAO

Founder of Hast, a company that designs tools to help make cooking easier, more predictable, and more fun.


What Is Hast? Tell Us About Your Brand And Mission.

Hast is created to bring high-performance, design centric kitchen tools that energize and excites cooking. With forward-looking, functional, and intuitive design, Hast reduces the weight and seriousness of high-performance knives so that you can focus on the creative part of cooking.

We believe cooking is crucial to society, cultural and sustainability. There is an artist in everyone, and cooking is the artistry everyone can pursue and start whenever.

Our mission is to get more people to cook, cook more and have more fun cooking.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before starting Hast, I have been creating brands, mostly for large corporations. I have been working in marketing and branding consultancy in firms and brands such as Weber Shandwick, Future Brand and Nivea.

My interest in material science led me to work with a startup pioneering in innovative alloy in cutlery which then got me into the world of knives and knife production. After seeing some many knives (designs), I still couldn’t find a knife I am proud to own, a knife of uncompromising performance, and good design with meaningful & essential details, and does not cost a fortune. Knives in the market are either traditional and serious, or aggressive in design (look) but not comfortable to use, or those flashy colorful cheap knives sets.

Like many makers and entrepreneurs, I was ignorant and brave enough to give the design a try which then led to the journey of exploring and testing dozens of steels, production and performance tests, and launching a crowdfunding campaign.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We want a registrable brand name that can reflect our design principle (simple, universal, timeless). The name Hast is from Swedish, meaning speedy/fast. It also means “have” in Old English. The name reflects our function-focused, minimalist design approach, and the chef’s mindset: focused, creative, and present.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I like make things that make positive impact, and I am quite proud that Hast knives have become the go-to knife of many home chefs who purchased many brands. Customer feedbacks like this get me excited:

“As a professional chef of 40yrs I can say last year I purchased 3 new chef knives. Misen, Hast and another high end I cannot remember. Point? I reach for Hast every time . It's lighter than the rest and now I'm noticing it stays the sharpest. I give it a surprising A+”-Jack Petronella

The least-liked part is that you have to deal with all the setbacks, challenges and stay positive. 

The most challenging moment is pushing for high-quality production when everything was delayed in 2020. We are few months behind our planed delivery schedule, and we couldn’t give accurate estimation of delivery. 

The most exciting moment is when we shipped the orders to our ealy backers. I am very grateful for the Kickstarter community for their support and trust, and I am very happy we can deliver knives they like. 




Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Manufacturing Process? What Makes Hast Knives Unique In Terms Of Design And Technology?

Making great knives are just like cooking great steak. Prime meat is essential, but just part of the success. The performance of kitchen knives is limited by the steel, the harder the steel, the sharper the knife can be, but at the same time, more difficult to produce. And the knife can be difficult and specific too, especially with ultra-hard high-carbon steels. The production process also affects the knives performance largely. The steel will determine the geometry limits of the knife, hence cutting performance, as well as the production process. The harder the steel is, the slower the process. Heat and cold treatment, and heat produced during the manufacturing process will also change the hardness and strength of the steel, and performance of the knife.

Our differentiation of design came from our function/experience-first design principle. We want to design a good knife, then an impressive design. Every detail of Hast knives is kept because it serves a better function or user interaction. It weights light your hand and feels light to your eyes and mind. It’s an easy and effortless tool.

It’s subtle but different with details you appreciate more after using it for a while. The design removes the feeling of a tool, let you feel just you cook and create.

Hast Edition series knives have achieved the highest sharpness and edge-retention (durability) standard, 116% above the highest industry standard (Catra Excellent standard)

Hast Edition series knives are made of patented Matrix powder steel, a steel with great balance of hardness, yield strength and corrosion resistance. (Typically for knives, harder steel means sharp but fragile and easy-rust knives.) The achieve optimal performance from the steel, we need to test optimize the production process. We did multiple test-production test even before we ran our Kickstarter campaign.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

We are going to launch a new knife line featuring the same minimalistic design with premium Japanese high-carbon stainless steel from leading cutlery steel manufacturer JFE.

It will be the MacBook Air to our current Edition Powder steel line. We are currently testing the steel and adjusting the production processes for the best possible performance. We will also run lab test and kitchen-using test with chefs before we finalize the production standard.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Hast At All?

It has dramatically affected our business, especially the manufacturing. We have to closely monitor and work with our manufacturing partner. The pandemic made it almost impossible at the beginning. It also makes it very difficult to have off-line meetings with clients, partners, and customers.

The supply chain issue made shipping more expensive, and unpredictable. One of our shippings had to wait in a port for more than a month before loading.



How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

I think people are exposed more to cooking and their kitchen. When you get into cooking more, you will realize that good knives and other cooking tools are very important to cooking, just like instruments to artists.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I typically get up 8:30 and get to the office around 9am. I will have my first cup of coffee around 10. I have a light lunch (chocolate, nuts, or some simple protein).

I finish around 7pm and have a full meal for dinner. I will make some calls and working on emails after my dinner break.

I go to gym around 4 times a week. 2 days in the week and 2 in the weekend.

Gym/training is a great routine for me to keep my energy level and stay focus. It offers incremental progress that you are in total control. The sense of progress is critical to keep a positive mindset when work is challenging and unpredictable.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

In-depth understanding of the product.

Engineering and design mindset.

Good communicator of product and vision of the company.

My advice is that you should only invest in ventures that you have a passion for.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I once treated myself from an allergy induced blackout on a train without medicine, by applying basic physics and biology. I used cold water (to drink and rinse) to cool my body and reduce my body’s allergic reaction.

I think the lesson is that you need stay calm to come up with the better solution possible and there always solutions to make the reality better.



Any Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I believe we are in an era of major transitioning: transitioning to sustainable energy, energy independence and abundance; Transitioning to Autonomous technology with AI, Robotics; transitioning to better living with genome sequencing & therapeutics. These transitioning will change human race fundamentally in the form of economy, politics, and culture.

In any form of transitioning, there will be mistakes, chaos, pain, and suffering, especially for those who are in disadvantage. I think self-care is utterly important. Cooking can play a much important role in self-care and taking care of those we love. Cooking will be a bigger part of our living and culture in the technology advanced, abundant era when everyone is an artist.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I think I’d like to hang out with Elon Musk. He is a true entrepreneur & engineer, a cool, kind and host person and he has been creating fundamental positive changes to humanity. And I am also a techno fan.



Who Is Your Role Model?

Elon Musk and Steve Jobs


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I cook quite often. I try to cook recipes from different cultures. I experiment and try to understand the fundamentals of different cuisine. I bring my own interpretation to recipes and sometimes it works great.

I am into art, design, movie, and music. I watch movies of different language and cultures to have sense of perspective of living beyond my experiences.

I train regularly. I am also a certified Les Mills RPM (cycling) instructor.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation.”

It’s quite true. It helps to separate opinions from facts, and we should always question opinions.



What Does Success Mean To You?

Making the best of you and making positive impact to your family, community and wherever you can reach.


 Elliot Cao’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The Outlier

2. The Crowd

3. Steve Jobs

Health & Fitness:

1. Cross-training-weight & cardio

2. RPM (stationary cycling)

3. Pilates

Brands:

1. Uniqlo

2. Prada

3. Adidas

Products:

1. Hast Knives, I drink a glass of water with fine-sliced lemon and Himalaya salt every morning.

2. iPhone 13 Pro and MacBook Pro

3. Freitag backpack

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. HubermanLab podcast (health, nutrition, longevity, science)

2. Breaking Points

3. Dave Lee Investing (good take on Tesla and other Tech companies)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Texas

2. Italy

3. Portugal


- What I Found
Peter Marler | Robin Golf

PETER MARLER

Co-Founder & CEO of Robin Golf, a company that makes buying premium golf clubs easier and more approachable so that more people can start swinging.


What Is Robin Golf? Tell Us About Your Brand, Your Mission, And What Makes Your Products Unique.

We're a family business (female & LGBT founded) that's passionate about bringing accessibility and diversity to golf.  We make the highest quality sets of clubs on the market for new and casual players  - women, men, and juniors.  Very simple purchase process, no jargon, no confusion. 


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Most people assume that since I started a golf company that I’m an avid or highly skilled golfer, Neither is true and that’s a big part of the reason Robin was started.  

I co-founded the company with my brother Andrew (a former D1 collegiate player), and my sister-in-law Ali (a new/casual player).  They joined me in Los Angeles in 2017 and in short order  Andrew invited us to play golf with him at his new golf club.   At the time I was using a garage sale set and Ali was using an entry level discount set, neither of which felt appropriate for our debut at the club.  

Ali and I went to a major golf retailer in LA to buy new sets and both had terrible experiences for different reasons.  For me, I was overwhelmed by choice, price, and jargon.  The pro was asking me things like “what loft do you want in your driver” and “what flex to you prefer in the shaft,” which I didn’t know the answers to.  In the end, the set he put together for me came to about $3,500. He then brings Ali into the back of the store and shows her one set of pink clubs and one set of purple clubs.  We both left the store frustrated - me feeling taken advantage of and Ali feeling patronized.  

We asked Andrew what the Warby Parker equivalent of golf was and he told us it didn’t exist.  In confirming this, we found that the major golf brands cater predominantly to avid, skill biased golfers, who overwhelmingly tend to be affluent, white, men.  Meanwhile, the fastest growing groups in the sport were ones that were typically left out of the narrative - women, people of color, juniors, and millennials/gen z.  

That’s when the idea for Robin Golf came about.  Robin was started with the goal of creating accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in golf.  We launched by releasing a line of golf sets, but we see that mission applying to many different categories in golf and beyond.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We had originally named the company Marler Golf, but since our mission was to democratize golf it felt a bit pretentious to name it after ourselves.  Also we had several foreign friends tell us that our last name is difficult to understand/pronounce if English is your second language.  

So we renamed the company Robin which signifies a few things.   First, the bird symbolizes the coming of spring and a sign of good things to come.  Second, Robin fits in nicely with the bird vernacular of golf (e.g. birdie, eagle, albatross, condor).  


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I’ve had many favorite parts of the journey, but I’ve enjoyed ideating and creating Robin’s culture the most.  It’s been fun and rewarding to think about commonly held practices in American work culture and asking “is there a good reason to keep doing it this way?”  For example, we implemented a 4-day work week after being inspired by the Icelandic study on its benefits.  I get really energized when I get to think about how we can use Robin as a tool to create positive experiences for our employees, customers, and community.  

My least favorite part is the admin work that comes along with having a small team.  Things like accounting, expenses, taxes, and other paperwork.  Hopefully I won’t have to spend so much time doing those things in the not so distant future.  


Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

I co-founded the company with my brother and my sister-in-law.  Thankfully we’re really close and we all have complementary skills so it’s worked out nicely.  That being said, we have invested in an executive coach so that we can more effectively navigate our work lives and personal lives intertwining.  There have been times where work disputes spill over into our personal lives and it’s never fun when that happens.  


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Fundraising has been a trip. Surprisingly, it was way easier for us to raise money when we were just a pitch deck and an idea than it has been after launching and finding success in our first 18 months. I think when you’re pre-launch investors get excited about the possibility of what you will build, whereas after launch the focus is on KPI’s which vary greatly by investor. We’ve raised money from angels and family offices thus far, but we’re in the process of raising our seed round which looks like it may contain our first institutional check.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Or Categories Launching Soon?

We got somewhat lucky in that golf exploded during the pandemic. When golf courses opened up around May 2020 our products just started flying off the shelves, which continued through 2021. We 5x’d our top line 20-21 and expect to do the same in 2022 (assuming no more significant supply chain disruptions).

We’re launching several new products this year including a 13-club set, balls, and accessories. Our goal is still to keep our product selection highly curated and simple to understand.

Ultimately our goal is to bring accessibility and inclusivity to a sport that has historically lacked those values. We have a larger vision with regard to that mission that could extend beyond golf in the future.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Your Ability To Keep Up With Demand On The Manufacturing Or Shipping Side Of Things?

We launched the week of the shut down and thought we were completely screwed. Thankfully golf was one of the only things that you could do while safely socially distanced so the sport exploded in 2020-2021.

Similar to many ecommerce companies though we were affected by the supply chain issues. Lead times have ballooned and it’s always frustrating to see our container ships idling at the port of LA for weeks at a time. I’d like to think that the situation is improving but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet unfortunately.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I hate working out in the morning so the only thing I do other than shower and brush my teeth is stretch. Apparently I’m at that age where my lower back hurts all the time and I never was very good about stretching until it became absolutely necessary.

As for staying productive through the day I’m a big fan of taking many small breaks. I’ll usually take a walk, read a few pages of my book, listen to a podcast segment, or get sucked into Tik Tok (I’m desperately trying to reduce my Tik Tok time in 2022).

I try to workout in the evening, but I’ve definitely become less regimented about it during the pandemic. I love cooking so I’ll typically try to cook for myself and my husband rather than ordering from Postmates.

I almost always end the day with a dry martini.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Tenacity - I was listening to the How I Built This interview with Brian Armstrong from Coinbase and he said that someone once told him that entrepreneurship is moving from one setback to another with enthusiasm.  That made me laugh and really resonated with my journey so far.  

The ability to zoom out - sometimes I get so wrapped up in the challenges I’m facing at work that I forget to take a step back and remember that they’re rarely as catastrophic as I’m making them.  In those moments I remind myself that I have my health, wonderful family and friends, food, and shelter, so it’s not going to kill me if someone doesn’t get their golf clubs on time.  That practice is harder than it sounds, but I do my best. 

Self-kindness - I think starting a company humbles you really quickly because it shows you just how little you actually know.  Many people ask if going to business school was a prerequisite to starting a company and I think it helps about 5%, but really the crux of building a business seems to be having strong convictions about the problem you’re solving followed by a ton of trial and error.  I tend to be very self-critical, but I’m learning to cut myself some slack and practice more self-kindness.  I’ve embraced the famous Thomas Edison quote - “I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.”



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

In a job I had prior to starting Robin, for the first year I was convinced that I was going to get fired. Not for any specific reason, I just felt very underqualified for the role and my imposter syndrome was severe. I spent the better part of that year complaining to my dad about how I just knew I was going to let go. He was such a good sport about it - he spent about 11 months saying all the right things to make me feel better.

One day after work I called him with this same sob story and I think he had had enough of my whining. Instead of replying with the usual “I’m sure that’s not true etc.” he just says “Oh for f’s sake Peter, SO WHAT?” The reply caught me off guard at first, but then he continued: “So what if you get fired? You’re a highly educated white male with no kids. You might have to update your resume and find a new job. And if we assume the absolute worst case scenario: you lose your job, can’t get a new one, your husband leaves you, and you get thrown out of your house, you can always come back home and annoy us in person until you figure your life out. This is not a real problem, so STOP complaining about it.”

He was absolutely right of course. It was the best reality check I’d ever gotten and I think about him saying that every time I encounter a problem that I think is insurmountable.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m going to cheat and say two - Julie Andrews and John Cleese.  They’re iconic and their movies and TV shows have brought me so much joy throughout my life.  


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Play tennis, pickleball (which I’ve recently become obsessed with), and golf (badly). 

I love to cook and make cocktails so I try to do those as frequently as possible. 

I’m a big movie guy so I watch as many as I can in my spare time (especially horror movies) 

Reading and board games. 



What Does Success Mean To You?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, because to me entrepreneurship feels like a series of failures punctuated by brief moments of feeling like you may have done something right.  

To me success is effortlessly acknowledging and feeling joy each day.  I think the things that we think will bring us joy are often misleading, or at least that was my takeaway from the movie Blank Check.

The times in my life where I’ve felt the most joy are ones in which I felt confident in my life’s purpose and supported and loved by those around me.   

Alternatively, I once heard Tom Ford say that success is being able to take a nap after breakfast, so maybe I just shoot for that.  

 Peter Marler’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Delivering Happiness - Tony Hsieh

2. Let My People Go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard

3. Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer

Health & Fitness:

1. Shred App

2. Peloton (I don’t cycle, but I like their fitness classes)

3. Kos Vegan Protein

Brands:

1. Allbirds

2. Buck Mason 

3. Eberjey (just got their PJ’s for Christmas and I never want to take them off)

Products:

1. Hendrick’s Gin

2. Cardon SPF face moisturizer

3. Noise cancelling Airpods

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Lean Luxe newsletter

2. How I built This podcast

3. Unexplainable podcast

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Patagonia

2. Portugal

3. Turkey


- What I Found
Michael Kopko | Pearl Health

MICHAEL KOPKO

Co-Founder & CEO of Pearl Health, a company enabling primary care practices to thrive by compensating providers for improving their patients’ health.


What Is Pearl Health? Tell Us About Your Company, How It Works, And What You Do Differently.

Pearl Health is fixing healthcare by enabling primary care doctors to transform their work with value-based care, starting with Medicare’s Direct Contracting program. To do this, we’re building the most trusted platform for enabling primary care providers to bear and capture value from risk while delivering life-improving care to their patients. As a technology-first company, we offer a physician enablement platform, alongside our risk marketplace, that will help physicians manage patients’ total cost of care. 

We’re excited to release the first iteration of the Pearl Platform in the first quarter of 2022, aimed at enabling physicians to decide how to deliver better patient care at a lower cost — while capturing more value for themselves. This includes: 

Easy-to-understand financial reporting and payments management

Strategic visibility into patient panel health

Dedicated expert support to ensure success 

In contrast to the flurry of acquisitions of physician practices by health systems, PE groups, and other self-purported physician enablement companies, at Pearl Health, we aren’t seeking to have greater control over practices. We offer a clear alternative to those providers who wish to remain independent, instead giving them greater access to economics that are more in line with the value that they generate for the healthcare industry. We believe that primary care providers can best serve their patients when they’re allowed to remain independent. At Pearl Health, we aim to enable and empower them to take that opportunity — and to take a bet on themselves. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I grew up in central Connecticut, and I was raised in an extremely entrepreneurial and hard-working family. I caught the entrepreneurial bug early, starting my first business in 3rd grade: selling magazines. It was fun to help my classmates — a fun-loving and rapidly expanding salesforce — generate more than their lunch money. This was a great experience that taught me how aligned incentives and teamwork are the lifeblood for a rapidly growing business. I worked hard with my Mom on weekends, spending hours building pricing catalogs and tools to help our salesforce grow. It’s probably fair to say that my Mom was my first co-founder.

As I got older, I was lucky to be the first member of my family to earn a spot in an Ivy League university, Harvard — a point of pride for my family. After Harvard, my luck continued, and I went straight to Columbia Business School after receiving the Feldberg Fellowship.

After business school, I had the opportunity to work at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, where I led a team of 60 hedge fund researchers and reported to Ray Dalio, its founder and co-Chief Investment Officer, and Greg Jensen, its CEO and co-CIO. My time at Bridgewater taught me how to tackle big problems with smart, committed people.

From Bridgewater, I joined Oscar Health with several other Bridgewater alums and Josh Kushner, a serial entrepreneur and now world-class investor whom I met at Harvard. When we first met, funnily enough, Josh offered to invest in a startup that I founded in college. This time around, we were intent on making the collaboration happen, and I’m grateful that we did.

Helping build Oscar from a team of 20 people to a publicly-traded company gave me the opportunity to have some of the coolest and most educational experiences of my career. It also gave me incredible insight into our healthcare system. My fantastic team and I were responsible for distributing Oscar’s health plans across the country, then building complete networks to serve them. After that, I managed the Oscar’s largest P&L — greater than $2.5bn — to help make Oscar more sustainable.

My time at Oscar reaffirmed the critical lesson that incentives matter — and, more specifically, that we had devalued our primary care layer in healthcare across the country. It was sad to see, but it hinted at a huge opportunity.

When I learned of Direct Contracting, a new and innovative model out of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation and I met with the team at AlleyCorp — including Kevin Ryan, Jeff De Flavio, and Ankit Patel — I felt that we were on the precipice of a huge idea that was going to make a national impact. Pearl was born shortly thereafter.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Pearl Health is a reference to the notion of “clinical pearls”, which are small bits of free-standing, clinically relevant information based on experience or observation. They’re part of the vast domain of experience-based medicine, and can be helpful in dealing with clinical problems for which controlled data do not exist.

We’re helping doctors focus on this irreplaceable impact that only they can provide, and we’re striving to free them from the burdens that currently overrun their lives.

I also love the idea of how a pearl forms in nature — the beautiful result of irritants around it. It’s a great metaphor for the contribution we’re trying to make in healthcare.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I deeply enjoy bringing people together to solve hard problems that make the world a better place.

At Pearl, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do exactly that. We’re building a team of world-class talent, and we’re laser-focused on making healthcare more sustainable. Every member of the team shares a deep-seated passion for making an impact and building something great. I personally never feel like I’m working when building Pearl with our team. Instead it feels like we’re assembling a big orchestra that will produce beautiful, incredible things for the people around us. It’s been magical to watch it unfold.

Our best moments have been meeting with physician practices across the country and introducing them to the power of Pearl and the future of a value-oriented healthcare system. I love meeting our clients and building relationships with new ones. I think the best clients challenge us to improve and get better, which helps create a virtuous cycle. Needless to say, primary care doctors are remarkable people. They genuinely care about their patients, and they’re working hard to find new sources of value for their patients, their staff, and themselves.

I don’t have a least favorite part in entrepreneurship. I genuinely love solving problems at scale — and with the right team and resources. Being an entrepreneur somewhat guarantees that you won’t have all those preconditions, so it forces you to be creative and inventive with less. I think that push can generate creativity and innovation, which I love.

If anything, I empathize a lot with the obstacles that our clients face. So much about our current system gets in the way of what they want to be doing most: caring for their patients. The flipside of that is the incredible opportunity that we have to help doctors — real-life unsung heroes – deliver better healthcare at a lower cost, making both them and their patients happier and better off.



Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Jeff De Flavio brings a ton of clinical experience, having launched other companies in the healthcare space focused on making peoples’ lives better. He’s founder of Groups: Recover Together, the national leader in value-based care for treatment of opiate addiction. Jeff earned his MD from Dartmouth College of Medicine, along with his MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Most importantly, Jeff is a relentless optimist, and sees every stumble in the road as an opportunity for a new path.

Ankit Patel brings lots of healthcare policy experience, previously as a Senior Advisor at CMS Innovation Center, where he worked on different value-based payment models, including the Pioneer ACO program and Maryland All-Payer Waiver. Most recently, Ankit led Provider Alignment at Clover Health, building programs and software to engage providers to achieve better health outcomes at lower costs. He started his career as a healthcare attorney for an academic medical center, after earning his BA in International Studies at University of South Carolina - Columbia and his JD from UNC at Chapel Hill. Ankit is a hustler at heart, who tries to see opportunity in challenge and won’t be fooled by healthcare nonsense. He also likes to give hot takes, which the team finds refreshing and engaging.

Kevin Ryan is one of the great entrepreneurs of our time, having built game-changing businesses across a breathtaking variety of industries. At Pearl, we feel lucky to find ourselves alongside the likes of MongoDB, Gilt Group, Zola, Nomad Health — all of which benefited from Kevin’s energy and intensity, which I absolutely love. I deeply value that Kevin has been both an operator and an executive, and I admire his incredible focus, drive, and desire to live life to the fullest. I enjoy spending time with Kevin, and always find myself incredibly impressed by his vision.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process for Pearl was extremely exciting and stimulating. It came with highs and lows, but ultimately resulted in a wonderful set of partners to join us on our journey — and enabled our team with the resources to accelerate and propel our vision and the future of value-based care forward.

We started by doing pitches to prospective investors. We were also having our first team retreat at this point, so the whole company had the chance to listen to the pitch, which seemed like a special experience to share with our early crew. I had been at Oscar for a very long time, but I had never had the chance to see a fundraising pitch. Sharing that with our first ten team members seemed like a fun, remarkable start in our commitment to transparency and inclusion.

We ultimately decided to move forward with Andreessen Horowitz and Vineeta Agarwala, MD. That process was incredibly special, as we had many great firms who wanted to support us. After meeting with Vineeta, her team, and Marc Andreessen — and, really, the entire a16z healthcare team and many of their partners — we were convinced that we had a very special community and platform to build Pearl within. The a16z team have been exceptional partners, every step of the way.

We were also extremely fortunate to have Kevin Ryan and AlleyCorp participate in our Series A fundraise. The AlleyCorp team is incredibly supportive and dedicated to the future of healthcare, and has expanded our thinking at every interaction.

We will be using our funds to accelerate product development, continue to build out our team of world-class talent, accelerate growth and expansion, and help facilitate and support our physicians to succeed in value-based care models as they make this shift.


How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

We’re loving it and have exceeded our own expectations. At the start of 2022, nearly 10,000 lives will be managed by more than 100 doctors through our physician enablement platform across 51 ZIP codes in 13 states.

For 2023, we will expand significantly, focusing first on increasing density in existing markets to help us provide even more resources to our PCP partners to help them deliver better care at a lower cost.

Looking forward, we’re building a marketplace that connects providers and payors in risk-based arrangements, where providers can increasingly bear and capture value from risk and transform their practices to value-based care. We’re actively building partnerships to realize this vision.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

COVID-19 was horrible for our country in so many ways. Our team rallied to find the silver lining during those difficult times, and we invented new ways to find and hire great people — you can work with us anywhere! COVID-19 also served as a forcing function for solving important physician problems, like the challenge of decreased in-office visits on primary care practice’s finances, while also not losing the humanity and personality that’s required to build a human-first healthcare business.

We’re excited to have incredible talent across the country — and the world(!) — join us on our mission. A remote-first culture has enabled us to have a broader set of perspectives at the table than a geographically-focused organization, which I see as a competitive advantage.

As COVID-related conditions have improved, we’ve seen a growing desire for our team and our clients to come together, and we’re developing systems and strategies to enable that collaboration and togetherness safely.



How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

COVID-19 demonstrated the fragility of our healthcare system and the ways in which we take for granted the providers that make it run. We need to empower and support them more effectively going forward, and part of that is helping them realize a greater portion of the value that they bring to the healthcare system. For too long, individual primary care providers have been kept at a distance from bearing risk and capturing downstream value that they create for our healthcare system. Instead, rewards from shared savings line the pockets of insurance companies, health systems, groups, or whoever else disintermediates doctors from risk. Or, perversely, fee-for-service incentives have been aimed at rewarding volumes of activities, instead of outcomes, disincentivizing doctors from making meaningful connections that don't neatly fit into maniacally managed schedules. This has to change, and it starts with changing the way we recognize the value that individual doctors create. The first step is giving them back their autonomy and time, and that starts with fixing their incentives.

COVID-19 also underscored the challenges of running critical healthcare systems without integrated data infrastructure or, even worse, with paper-and-pen processes. It’s been hard to effectively operate in any industry, and it was especially true in healthcare. When it comes to helping to keep their patients healthy, one of the biggest obstacles that providers face — especially primary care physicians and their staff — is their lack of visibility into patients' health care journeys. Data exist but are scattered across constellations of different systems in different formats, making it next to impossible for doctors and staff to know how their patient is doing when she goes through the system, from whom and where she's receiving care, and whether ongoing care is aligned with the patient's best interests. That's why we're building a platform that aggregates and visualizes data to enable primary care physicians with strategic visibility into patient panel health, alongside easy-to-understand financial reporting to help them allocate and manage resources.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Pearl Health?

People make choices because of people, at least in the early innings of your venture. You are the brand, and you are the reason people say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m currently working long days. Emails typically start around 7:30am, and I typically sign off just before midnight. I only do it because I enjoy it and it’s all building toward something, so I don’t feel like I’m working the same way it might feel for others. If I didn’t feel that way, my “schedule” would be impossible. In general, we try hard to take weekends off as a team. I believe in the restorative process of some time away and time spent with family and friends. Even though we work hard, it’s important that people “relax hard” too.

In the morning I usually work out. For me, exercise is critical and highly related to my mood throughout the day. I’ll have a coffee in the morning and spend some time with my 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She’s my greatest gift in the world.

I make an effort to take a few 5-10 minutes breaks throughout the day to move around, see Charlotte when she’s back from school, and clear my mind.

Every day I also try to write three appreciations, something I’m thankful for. This simple technique, which I’ve been doing for many years, helps me start my day with thanks and optimism, instead of agitation or disappointment.

I’m probably doing too many meetings right now, but I’m committed to being available and up-to-speed with what’s going on across Pearl and beyond. That said, this is something I’m thinking more about — and how to balance it with the increasing demands on my time.

I’m increasingly using a paper journal to write down insights and important things, so I can reflect a little more. I’m also trying to reboot my daily meditations, which I’ve been doing for the better part of eight years now.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Relentless determination. Tenacity and conviction, coupled with an openness to seeing reality, enables one to identify and realize what is possible. 

Continuous optimism. There’ll always be obstacles, and you have to have an optimistic mindset to endure the hamster wheel of problems and not get discouraged. Most obstacles are tests to help you and your team grow and establish who is meant to be on the other side versus who simply wishes to be on the other side. 

Be trustworthy and know your business. Work hard to do what you say and say what you do. First impressions and your areas of focus define you. 

For entrepreneurs just starting, I encourage you to enjoy the experience and be ready to put in the hard work. Entrepreneurship can be found in many places, so don’t create a false idol of what successful entrepreneurship looks like. It’s rarely what you read in the news, and it’s never the same thing twice.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

The birth of my daughter was the most significant moment in my life.

It taught me to enjoy the moment more and appreciate my time with the people I care about. I am so lucky to have Charlotte — not only because she is awesome, but also because she’s so loved, brings happiness to everyone around her, and will always be my wife’s and my baby.

Her constant joy and excitement has helped me re-experience the world around me.

Becoming a father to a baby girl was such a special and transformative experience. It rewards me each day. I’m excited to get out of bed in the morning to see her, and I love the adventures that we get to go on together.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m lucky to have one of them as my mentor of nearly 20 years: George David, the Chairman of Raytheon. I love my time with George, because it gives me the opportunity to ask questions that I struggle with but are hard to share with others. He also has a genuine care and concern for my development and growth, and he sees a big enough world that he knows how to separate what’s important from distractions. I have other heroes too.

More generally, I encourage people to reach out to those who they think are great. You might get lucky and have one of them in your life.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“We will either find a way or make one,” said by Hannibal of Carthage upon his famous excursion through the Alps. I think it captures the grit, ingenuity, and confidence that is required for the entrepreneurial journey.



Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

I love the real-life parable of the Stockdale Paradox, which I first came across in Jim Collins’ Good to Great

Admiral James Stockdale, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former prisoner-of-war, said of his multi-year stay in a POW camp: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

It’s a poignant lesson for all people, not just entrepreneurs, about the paradoxical need for both relentless optimism and intellectually honest pragmatism. Both are required to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship — and to build a path to the other side of what may seem like insurmountable obstacles. 


Who Is Your Role Model?

My father has been a great role model in my life. He was able to build and create a lot having come from humble beginnings and invested in his children, his colleagues, and his friends. He’s an optimist and an entrepreneur at heart, and I’ve enjoyed learning from him and spending time with him from being a little boy to an adult. 


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Working out

Time with my wife, daughter, and rest of my family

Seeing friends and doing outdoor activities with them


What Does Success Mean To You?

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. I think that, while anybody can achieve success, it takes a willingness and a discipline to drive toward it every day. For my part, I’ve enjoyed specific missions that I think are important for the world. In this chapter of my life, it’s helping Pearl’s vision manifest into reality and enabling the United States to get much more out of our healthcare system at a lower cost and with greater satisfaction. For my family, colleagues, and friends, it’s helping them achieve their ambitions and dreams, however best I can, so they live a life of abundance and adventure without regret.

 Michael Kopko’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. How the Economic Machine Works, by Ray Dalio (technically a video)

2. The Firm, by Josh Grisham

3. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

Health & Fitness:

1. Run on the streets

2. Citibike over the Brooklyn Bridge and all around Manhattan and Brooklyn

3. Walking around with my daughter Charlotte

Brands:

1. My Pearl hoodie

2. Nike t-shirts

3. Nice pair of dress shoes

Products:

1. Airpods & iPhone

2. American Express

3. Robinhood & Audible

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The New Yorker

2. The Strangest Secret (YouTube)

3. NY Times & WSJ & StrictlyVC

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. My wife Marcela’s family loves seeing their granddaughter, and we love seeing them. 

2. Clinton, Connecticut. It’s the beach town where I spent my summers as a kid growing up.

3. United Kingdom, Scotland

4. Ireland

5. Marcela and I still want to make it to the Maldives.


- What I Found
Joe Parenteau | Fable

JOE PARENTEAU

Co-Founder & CEO of Fable, a lifestyle brand designing and delivering products that transform how you eat at home—starting with better tableware.


What Is Fable? Tell Us About Your Products, Mission, And How Fable Differentiates Itself From The Other Brands In The Same Category.

At Fable, we create timeless everyday pieces that inspire and elevate the experience of dining at home. Motivated by a common vision to create products that are as enjoyable as they are ethical, we started with ceramics that are sustainably crafted in Portugal, and have since expanded to flatware, glassware, textiles, and more. Starting with tableware, our mission is to bring ethical, sustainable home decor into every area of the home.

Through transparent pricing and conscious sourcing, we produce accessibly priced tableware without compromising on quality or ethical craftsmanship. We also recognize that a meal is not a given right; in our pursuit of balancing profit and purpose, we donate a meal for every Dinnerware Set sold through our partnership with Mealshare. We plan to continue to grow Fable into a lifestyle brand and trusted source for all things home decor.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m a technology leader, and an operations expert. After working in the traditional accounting space, I began my pursuit in technology at Bench Accounting, where I helped build teams and scale the operations from 400 to 4000 clients. Previously, I built and led an 80 person operations team at AvenueHQ, a real estate marketing company.

Together with Max Tims and Tina Luu, I founded Fable as a solution to a personal problem. When wanting to upgrade to more premium home decor and tableware, I wasn’t able to find anything out there that was ethically and sustainably produced and accessibly priced that also offered a simplified shopping experience. We saw an opportunity, and set out to fill the gap.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

A favorite for me has been working with such a great team—it’s so inspiring to collaborate with such an incredible group of people. As for the least-liked, I’d say the challenges we’ve faced in recent months due to global shipping delays. Most of our products are produced in places like Portugal and Japan, so naturally, we’ve been pretty heavily impacted by delays. Not being able to replenish our inventory levels at the expected rate, and feeling like we’re letting our customers and community down as a result, hasn’t been easy.


Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Fable was co-founded together with Max Tims, our Head of Operations, and Tina Luu, our Head of Technology. While our primary roles are quite different, we work very closely to lead Fable under one of our core philosophies: sharing all that we can. All three of us come from a background in tech, and each bring a unique yet complementary skillset to the table. 


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name is a reference to Aesop’s Fables. More specifically, we were drawn to the fable called The Dove and the Ant, which is what inspired the turtle dove in our logo. Its moral, the importance of showing kindness to others in order to see it in return, was something we felt aligned with both as individuals and as a brand.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has been great so far—our investors have been so helpful and supportive of our business. Whenever we’ve experienced any challenges, it’s been great having them to turn to as extra team members with loads of valuable experience.


Are There Plans To Launch New Products Or Categories In The Near Future?

Yes, absolutely. At Fable, we see a lot of opportunity beyond the dining table, and we plan to continue on our mission to bring elevated home decor into every area of the home. This year, we launched premium Japanese glassware and Belgian linen to complement our sustainably crafted ceramics and flatware, and we’re launching a handful of exciting new products this year and next that we can’t wait to share with you. Keep an eye out!


This Past Year Has Brought So Many Challenges To Companies Of All Sizes, Especially Those That Lean On Supply Chains. How Have COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Constraints Impacted Your Operation And Business Over The Last Few Months And Year?

COVID-19 and recent supply chain constraints have impacted our business in a few different ways. More than anything, they’ve put strains on freight forwarding, which has largely impacted our logistical ability to move our products from Portugal or Japan to our warehouse in Burnaby, BC. In turn, this has caused challenges with getting our products to our customers and community. We’ve chosen to be transparent with our community in clearly communicating the issues we’re facing, and we’ve been fortunate to see an overwhelmingly positive response so far. The understanding, patience, and continued support has been really great to see.


How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

I think one of the biggest shifts we’ll see, and are already seeing, is with how people work. I believe that remote work is here to stay, and will continue to evolve to become a more global practice.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I spend most of my days working remotely from Europe, which puts me in a different time zone than most of my team members. I structure my workday to better align with theirs by starting later in the day, which means free mornings and late nights.

I typically start my day by taking Nash, our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, for a walk to grab a specialty coffee before I head off to train or play a match of tennis. Around noon, I either find a patio to sit on or head home for lunch. After that, I take a nap for 30 minutes to an hour before starting the workday around 2:00-3:00pm. Working remotely gives me the freedom to make dinner, take Nash for a night walk, and have a few calls with team members in the evenings. I usually have three to five Nespressos to keep me awake until the workday is done, around midnight or 1:00am local time.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The ability to execute and think strategically. I think most people either fall into the category of having big build ideas but not knowing how to get them off the ground, or the opposite—being able to do the work, but not having the vision to execute the bigger picture.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was very young, around 10 years old, I loved playing with Lego. I had a subscription to Lego Club Magazine, and became so passionate about being featured in it that I submitted multiple times. Finally, after submitting photos of a Lego submarine I made from scratch, I was featured in the magazine. To me, the takeaway was that if you really want to make something happen, it’s possible. I still live by that to this day.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Rafa Nadal, the Spanish professional tennis player. I’d love to play a game of tennis with him, and to have the opportunity to really seek to understand his ability to lift an entire community. He’s a big inspiration.


Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

The Dove and The Ant. As mentioned in an earlier answer, it’s one of Aesop’s fables (which technically makes it a fable, not a parable, but close enough) that inspired our name. It teaches the importance of the ability to always show kindness, which is at the root of everything we do at Fable. Showing kindness to the earth via sustainably crafted products and eco-friendly packaging, and showing kindness to each other as a team and our community as a whole.


Who Is Your Role Model?

I really look up to Maj Masad, the Co-Founder of Mejuri. He’s someone that I’ve been fortunate enough to both work with and learn from as we build Fable.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

In my free time, I like to play tennis, spend time with my girlfriend Denise and our Golden Retriever, Nash, and travel. Since relocating to Europe last year, I’ve been able to make the most of days off and weekends by jetting off (or driving) to different European cities and countries to sightsee and explore, and it’s been amazing.


What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is all about fulfillment—getting to live a life of fulfilling days where you really feel like you’ve been able to create and build something that brings joy to other people, and improves their lives in some way.

 Joe Parenteu’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

3. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by James C. Collins

Health & Fitness:

1. Tennis

2. Beach volleyball

3. Gym / weightlifting

Brands:

1. Lululemon

2. Kit & Ace

3. Nike

Products:

1. Nespresso

2. Red wine

3. Japanese chef’s knife

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Nik Sharma

2. Bad Blood (currently)

3. Crime Junkie

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Georgia

2. Morocco

3. Norway


- What I Found
Braeden McCarthy | Soone

BRAEDEN MCCARTHY

Co-Founder of Soone, a connection app focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life.


What Is Soone? Tell Us About The App And How It Works.

Soone is the first connection app that is heavily focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life right away. We connect people in close proximity who are ready to meet when they log onto the app. When you send someone a connection request, users have 30 minutes to accept it, and a temporary chat window pops up to set a location to meet, meaning you can go from being on your phone to meeting with someone in under an hour. We also help by suggesting nearby meet up locations such as bars, nightclubs and cafés – great public places to meet up so you can have an in-person interaction and feel safe.

Women feel more comfortable with our additional security measures in place such as a requirement that the first photo you take for your profile be taken live to prevent catfishing and misleading pictures that other apps struggle with. We also have a proprietary heat map that shows where clusters of users are (though never identifying anyone’s exact location). College students, young professionals and people new to Austin have particularly embraced the philosophy behind Soone.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before Soone, I was just a typical college student. My friend Austin and I were both 19 and realized that we saw our friends constantly swiping and hitting “like” on other apps, but when we asked our friends how many people they ended up meeting in real life, they said not many. There were lots of endless chats but it seemed my generation was more content to hide behind their phones than actually meet new people, even if they were out at a bar or restaurant. Austin and I realized that there has to be a better way and that’s how Soone was born.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the entrepreneurial journey has definitely been learning. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys school and learning. There’s been a lot of learning that has occurred throughout this process for me. I surrounded myself with a lot of really smart people, and so that's been really enjoyable to learn from them.

The least favorite part of the journey has been trying to overcome the language barrier between layman's terms and coding terms when working with our development team. I have learned a lot from them, and I continue to get better at it every week.

 The most challenging piece has definitely been keeping up the discipline to sacrifice. I sacrifice social events and different things that my peers are doing because I have commitments for Soone, so I just don't have time to engage in many social activities. I will say it is very enjoyable work so that does make it a little bit easier to sacrifice that time, plus I'm really passionate about helping people meet in person. That passion and the enjoyment that I find in my work makes it easier.  

The most exciting moment has been seeing people relate to the experiences that I have had and that my Co-Founder Austin has had which is the reason why we came up with the concept and the need for the app in the marketplace. 

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Scott has helped navigate the world of entrepreneurship. Austin is a real self-starter, determined to accomplish his goals, along with being very creative and aesthetically gifted at knowing how to create things that look really professional and clean.


Have You Raised Funding Thus Far? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Scott Dill is a serial entrepreneur, and he's really helped Austin and me to navigate this world of entrepreneurship. So far we've used funds to hire a development team to code the app, we've hired a marketing firm to help us share the app with the people in Austin. There are also legal fees and other fees that come with starting your own company.

How Has Soone Acquired Users In The Austin Area? What Other Cities Do You Plan On Expanding Into In The Near Future?

We have a great marketing team who has helped us do a lot of fun events in Austin and engage in a lot of great marketing opportunities. We did an event at the UT Marketplace. We've got billboards up in Austin. We’ve got Spotify ads and radio ads. We have hosted events at local venues where we were able to introduce the app to a lot of people.

I found the best way to acquire users has been just telling people about it face to face because you can address their concerns and questions. Once they understand it, people really tend to engage.

In terms of other cities, our main focus right now is just making sure the users in Austin have a really great experience with the app. Beyond that, we're thinking about launching in our hometown of Charlotte. It’s similar to Austin as it has a really young, lively demographic and a lot of great places to meet up.


How Has COVID Impacted Your Operations And Growth Over The Last Year?

COVID caused us to pause operations for a few months before we finished the app and launched it because we wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be a health risk in launching an app in which the main purpose is to get people to meet in person. That being said, with the lack of in person interactions over the past year and a half, this app is more relevant now than it was pre-COVID.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Soone?

If you want to get something done, just start it. You don’t always have to know what you are doing but if you want to get something done, you have to start somewhere. Once you start, you can figure it out as you go.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

It depends on the day for me because I am a full-time college student. I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 until 3:45. Those days I usually wake around 5 in the morning. I do some work for Soone, and then I “pre-read” for my classes, in which I read over some of the materials that I'll cover in my classes so that I can engage better with that material. During my hour and 20 minute lunch break, I usually grab lunch and find a quiet space to eat and catch up on emails. Then I go home and do some homework or work.

I'm also a member of the varsity lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College, and I practice from 7 to 9 pm. Then I go home and make some dinner, before usually going to bed around 11.

Other days, I usually get up around 6. On those days I don't have specific

commitments outside of practice and lifting so I usually try to time block my day to set aside time for different tasks. For instance, I may spend 2 hours working on revising and reviewing some of the marketing techniques that we have in place, followed by 2 hours reviewing some of the development and coding that's going on. Then I typically spend 3 hours on homework.

One trick that I use to stay productive is to always start your day with something productive because it sets the tone and the pace for the rest of your day.

Other things I like to do are read and make my bed. I usually try not to start my day by scrolling through Instagram or watching TikTok. I usually try to start it by reading either the news, or an article that's relevant to Soone.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

One, you have to be self-motivated because there's really nobody checking in on you or watching over your shoulder to make sure you're getting your work done. At the end of the day, it's up to you.

Two, you have to be determined. When there's a task at hand, a lot of times it can seem like a mountain to climb because you don't have experience with completing that task. There's no one to really help guide you along in how to complete it so you really have to be determined to just get it done.

Third, you have to be resilient. Nothing great happens overnight. So when things don't go well, you have to be resilient and able to adapt to the feedback that you're given.

In terms of advice for entrepreneurs, I have two pieces of advice. One is don't be afraid to be wrong. Just make sure that when you do get something wrong, you're open to correcting it, which is something that I definitely had to learn to do. And the second thing comes from a book that Scott O'Neal wrote called Be Where Your Feet Are. It's called API. People typically have positive intent and are not trying to take you down; they're trying to help you. So always assume positive intent when you're working with others.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I missed my first semester of college, and then got sent home early during the second semester due to COVID, so I spent most of my college experience online. But one thing I've learned from that is God has a plan and that when one door closes, another opens. This really gave me an opportunity to work on the app and get done what I needed to get it to the position that it is in today.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tom Brady. He has managed to perform at such a high level for such a long period of time, but he also keeps a great work/life balance and has a really strong family life. I would talk to him about how he maintains such high motivation after reaching that mountain top and how he continues to perform at a higher and higher level every year.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” - Timothy McCarthy (my grandfather)

“People spend a lot of time worrying about making the right decision; instead worry about making the decision right.” - Timothy McCarthy

Who Is Your Role Model?

My grandfather. Without a college education to start his career, he worked his way up from office boy to CEO of CE Minerals, traveling all around the world and receiving his MBA from MIT without an undergrad degree.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I am a full-time college student majoring in Business, Organizations, and Society and minoring in Applied Mathematics at Franklin & Marshall College. I am also a member of the lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College so I spend time practicing, lifting, and training. Outside of those two pieces of my life, I enjoy spending time with friends, exercising, and doing yoga.


What Does Success Mean To You?

I view success in a few different lenses. Success for the app means helping people get out from behind their phones and interact in person, the way we did before social media and cell phones really dominated our society. Success for me personally means people regarding me as kind and hardworking. Success in life means having a positive impact on society whether in a big way or just impacting one or two people every single day.

 Braeden McCarthy’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins

2. Be Where Your Feet Are, by Scott O’Neil

3. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Health & Fitness:

1. Lifting

2. Fight Camp

3. Going for a 2-3 Mile Run

Brands:

1. Brooks Brothers

2. Lululemon

3. Nike


- What I Found
Nate Checketts | Rhone

NATE CHECKETTS

Founder & CEO of Rhone, a premium apparel brand for men.


What Is Rhone? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Clothing Unique.

Rhone is premium men’s apparel made for where you sweat, live, and work. Rhone delivers best-in-class products, engineered with performance technologies and premium fabrics designed to fill the void in the men’s premium activewear market.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

As I was graduating from BYU, I launched my first venture backed startup which was a mobile software company. That was my first experience working with investors, building out a leadership team and trying to grow a company. We eventually sold that business to the 49ers and I then worked for and consulted with many companies: Cisco, FanVision, Sport Radar and The National Football League, to name a few. But, my passion always lied with creating, building, and being challenged. I ended up launching four different companies before the age of 30 and Rhone was the last one.

If you told me fifteen years ago that I would have started a men’s apparel company, I would have never believed it because fashion and apparel wasn’t something I had any background in or something I paid attention to. Rhone was built because we saw a gap in the men’s activewear market and we felt there was a big opportunity in the space.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name was inspired by the Rhone river in Europe as it was not only aesthetically beautiful but was also once a valued trade route. That’s exactly how we approach our products. We start with the world’s finest fabrics, pair them with cutting edge textile technology, and finish with an unmatched fit and style to create clothing that satisfies both form and function.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to innovate, to evolve, and to always look for ways to improve. To me, that constant need to reinvest yourself is invigorating and exciting. I also really enjoy building a team and working to be a better leader that they can rely on and put trust in. And of course I really have grown to love creating tangible product vs working in software. It is such a great experience to hand someone a product you have dreamed about and created and see that product positively impact their day / life.

I think the biggest challenge for me personally is I have high expectations and it is easy when you crest one milestone to constantly be thinking about the next one vs reflecting on what you have accomplished thus far. I’m wired a bit to always be looking forward (hence our tagline) but there is real value in looking back and reflecting. One of the quotes I need to remind myself often is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There will always be someone doing better than you and most people only experience joy and sorry in relativity--meaning they are only happy relative to those they know or are aware of vs happy in the absolute. I have learned that taking stock of what I have, have been given and been blessed with and focusing on that daily gratitude helps center me and ground me in the highs and lows of building a company. There are days I feel like we are unstoppable and days where I don’t know how we will get through an obstacle but gratitude always brings me back to how fortunate I am to even have the ability to do what I do.

Most exciting Rhone moment? I think telling my mom we were opening a store on 5th Ave is one of the most exciting Rhone moments for me. It just felt like such a milestone to be across from Nike, New Balance and other giants of industry and exciting to be on an iconic New York street.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has always been a bit of a roller coaster. Unlike many of the companies in our space we have never used a banker. It has always been driven by people who are passionate and excited about the brand and product. We have some incredible investors on our cap table including a few former NFL players like Justin Tuck and Troy Aikman (one Giant and one Cowboy). We also have great personalities and investors including David Stern who invested before he passed, Steve Bornstein and others we are not allowed to share publicly. Lastly we have been backed by the largest Global consumer PE firm L Catterton.




With So Many DTC Apparel Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Rhone Launching Products Into New Categories Or Product Lines In The Near Future?

It starts with our core of who we are, what we stand for and being really clear about that across all of our channels and platforms.

We lean heavily into earned media, leveraging third party endorsements from media and influencers trying the product. We also do paid media on Instagram and other platforms, as well as partner with like minded fitness and health brands.

There are always opportunities to expand into new categories and product lines. While growth is always a goal, we want to achieve it in a way that makes sense for the brand and for the customer. Our product and creative teams are extremely innovative; we love to test out different products and ideas, but overall, we value the customers’ feedback and requests and work from there.



How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

As has been said by others, COVID didn’t necessarily change our industry but it accelerated changes that were already happening. The biggest functional change has been shifting distribution models and a push towards direct channels like ecomm and owned retail vs wholesale. The biggest overarching changes are a continued push towards brands with purpose and a focus on making responsible decisions for our climate. All of these were already core focuses for us and we have been fortunate to be well positioned moving forward.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

Morning: My mornings tend to start early. I wake up and move to my home gym and generally do a 30-40 min focused fitness session that has varied through the years. The key for me is moving and getting my body ready for the day. I then take my oldest to school who starts about an hour earlier than his peers. He’s a great kid and I really value my time with him during our drive. I then come back and focus on my day plan, clearing any emails. Next I will go meet my next 2 boys who are starting to stir and over the last 5 months we will do some soccer training together. 10-15 mins each. Then we grab breakfast together and they hop on the bus. After that I shower, get dressed and get ready for work. I try to keep my morning relatively clear for execution and limited meetings.

Afternoon: My afternoons are heavily focused on meetings. I like to go into my meetings prepared and thus really use the morning to get ready for that part of the day. They are often back to back with little break in between but it helps keep things moving and I’d rather protect consistent blocks of time in the morning vs spreading meetings out.

Evening: Evenings are heavily dependent on the day of the week. I try and keep 1 day a week for NYC days where I will often meet someone for a dinner or a later meeting, 1 night for a date night for my wife, 1 night where my wife is generally out and it’s me and the boys, 1 night for some volunteer work at my local church congregation where I get to do great activities with 14-15 year olds in a faith based environment and lastly 1 family night where we will often watch a movie or play a game together.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Top three qualities entrepreneurs should have are: patience, adaptability, and leadership.

Advice for entrepreneurs starting out:

Hire the best people possible. It’s cliché advice but it’s given for a reason — your team is the most important decision you make. From top to bottom, surround yourself with people that are motivated, intelligent, and versatile.

Define your brand’s voice and be consistent in every execution with it. This ties in with having an authentic brand, and it can be incredibly beneficial to have consistent and authentic messaging that people can relate to.

Customers crave authenticity. To every extent possible, it’s incredibly important to live your brand and to make it authentic and relatable. When you radiate authenticity, others pick up on that and will naturally gravitate towards your brand.

Don’t be afraid to go slow in the short-term so you can go fast in the long-term. Too often upstart brands come out hot without laying a solid foundation for what’s to come. It’s important to build a solid core before really looking to take off in new areas.

Get to know your customers. Spend some time with them in a physical environment and ask questions. Community feedback and relationships can be vital for an upstart brand looking to gain traction. Even with the utility and reach of online communication, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face interaction with your customers.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel and one question that was asked was, “If you could go back to your eighteen-year-old self and give one piece of advice, what would you say?” Someone on the panel shared his response and it’s something that really stuck with me. He said, “I would tell myself that there are weeds in your life and there are flowers in your life. Don’t spend your time watering the weeds. What we give life to, what we give water to, what we give air to, what we give focus to, is what grows.” So over the last few months I have reminded myself every time something hard happens that I need to focus on watering the flowers.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Honestly and not meaning to cop out here, I generally have not enjoyed conversations with famous people nearly as much as people I admire who are successful without a lot of the attention. I am drawn to great thinkers and builders. Right now, one CEO I admire is RJ Scaringe who founded Rivian and has built it into an incredible brand and company with meaning.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

One of my favorite quotes is the Rhone mantra of “Forever Forward.” We all make mistakes, take steps backward or get lost at various times in our life. And that is okay. It happens. But, if we just keep on focusing on moving forward and making progress in whatever we are pursuing, that gives life great meaning. Life isn’t like a road where you can be stationary--I’ve found it’s much more like an escalator and you are either moving forward or backward. It starts with focus and intention then a lot of work and self reflection. 

Who Is Your Role Model?

My parents are my role models. My mother is an incredibly giving human and she has always taught me how to be a more patient, caring being. My father was very successful in the workplace but was always a father first. He has never been afraid to show his emotions or lead by quiet example. I’m truly blessed to have such wonderful and inspirational parents that I admire and still learn from today.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

When I have free time, I generally love to spend it on activities with my kids. Recently we have really gotten into wakesurfing at a local lake. It’s become my favorite activity, getting in that water just refreshes me and it’s low impact but a lot of fun. It’s been great seeing my kids pick up a new skill that they can excel at.  


What Does Success Mean To You?

My parents often quoted the phrase “no success can compensate for failure in the home.” So as a husband and father of 3 that has to be the first priority for me. Raising my boys and helping them become the best they can is what will mean success for me. In addition to striving to be the best parent and spouse I can be-- I try to be all in on what I have committed to in my life. I love our team at Rhone and am committed to building a brand they are proud to work at and that our investors believe is a financial success. I am fortunate to serve as the Chairman of an incredible non profit called Beyond Type 1 which helps people globally who live with Diabetes --now both Type 1 and Type 2. And I am deeply committed to my faith and serving in my local congregation.

My hobbies tend to be focused on investing in and advising other consumer startups--that is really where I derive a lot of energy and excitement. With all of these commitments I admittedly don’t really relax well--I’ve never been someone who can sit on a beach or play several rounds of golf without getting anxious about productivity. I don’t necessarily wear that as a badge of honor--it’s just the way I’m wired. But for me, success means living a very full life, prioritizing my faith and family and positively impacting others lives through the building of great companies and brands.

 Nate Checketts’ Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, by Stephen Covey

2. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

3. Effortless, by Greg Mckeown

Health & Fitness:

1. Clean Simple Eats for Nutrition (the best clean protein powders and supplements in the market and incredible macro based recipes)

2. Oura Ring

3. Peloton Tread

4. Ladder Training

Brands:

1. I honestly wear 90% Rhone --we believe we can handle about 90% of a modern guys closet today.

2. For formal my go to is The Knot Standard

3. For footwear I wear Taft or Wolf & Shepherd for formal and York Athletics or Adidas for active

Products:

1. Clean Simple Eats Products

2. AirPods

3. Traeger Grill

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Daily by The NY Times

2. Against The Odds

3. Business Wars

4. What’s Essential by Greg Mckeown

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Charleston, South Carolina

2. Iceland


- What I Found
Munjal Shah | Health IQ

MUNJAL SHAH

Co-Founder & CEO of Health IQ, an insurance company that rewards health-conscious seniors with discounts and savings.


What Is Health IQ? Tell Us About What You Are Building And What Your Mission Is.

Health IQ is an insurance company for health-conscious seniors. We give special discounts in insurance for having taken care of their health. Our mission is to celebrate the people who have taken responsibility for their health with discounts and encourage them to continue to do so and, hopefully, inspire others to take care of their health as well.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Living in Silicon Valley in the '80s, it was in the water, so to speak.  I always knew I wanted to build companies growing up. I'm a serial entrepreneur and Health IQ is my third company.  It came out of a personal health crisis where after I sold my last company, I ended up with chest pains the very next day and wound up in the ER. After changing my own personal health and losing 40 pounds, I decided that what I really wanted to do was help the world get a little healthier and start a company to do so.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Health is a bit like playing cards. It's the cards you're dealt with but it's also how you play the cards. I think that’s the inspiration behind the company and we really wanted to separate the two.

You can't control the first, but you can control the second. At Health IQ when we built all these insurance products, we didn't want to build products that judge you on the part you can't control. We wanted to build products that gave you a discount on the part you can control. That in essence is Health IQ. That’s why the name is what it is. That's why it's not health.com or healthcare.com, but Health IQ because we're trying to emphasize the part that you can take control of, which is your own personal health knowledge.


What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Some of the early days of starting a company are just magical; the parts where ideas are being born, pulling together the first few people, etc. are just magical experiences in the sense that you really feel like something is happening out of nothing. It is just a really special time in creating a company.

I think that as you scale a company – Health IQ is now approaching 900 people – there's a lot of not-so-fun stuff related to compliance, rules, and regulations that you have to follow and do well but, they’re aspects of running a company that certainly take up time without necessarily feeling like the reason you started the company in the first place.

As far as exciting moments, the day we launched our first product was really exciting. The day we sold our first policy was really exciting. The day we got to our first million dollars in sales was really exciting. All these firsts - the first time we opened our second office in San Diego. The first time we were a company that was in more than one location; when we opened a third and a fourth but that first office In Mountain View was really special. Our first company holiday party where I got to meet everybody and their spouses. I think some of the special firsts are times that you always remember.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Because I was a serial entrepreneur, the fundraising process was different. I had already sold a company and so it wasn't that hard to get funding. I was able to go to those who made money before to invest again so it was a different process than my first time when I raised money for my very first company where it was much more difficult. The second time and the third time, it got progressively easier and easier.

We used the money to build the product, write the software, launch new insurance products, build out the really big data that we needed to be able to price health conscious people. Then we also invested in both marketing and sales, because you need people to sell the product.

We brought in a very great group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Folks like Andreesen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Foundation Capital and Ribbit Capital, and even added some folks that came with an insurance background like Acquiline Capital based in New York. The investors have not only provided us with capital, but really a lot of company building experience and company building resources that have helped us over the years.



How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

The company has grown dramatically over the last year from 200 to 900 people and, in turn, we have people in 39 states across the country. This has enabled us to go fully remote and take care of our employees.

In addition, we've gone from one product - life insurance to three products: life insurance, auto insurance and health insurance.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

Two big changes with COVID. One, it really accelerated the business. We were 200 employees at the beginning of COVID and we’re around 900 employees today.

COVID helped everybody to realize that having the right insurance - health insurance and life insurance - is really important. It took a little extra push from the pandemic, I think, to remind everybody, and our sales have shown that response.

The second part was that I shifted our whole company to remote, and then hired 700 people so, in a way, we are now not only a remote company, we're remote first. Those 700 people we hired are in 39 states and couldn't bring everyone back into the offices if we wanted to. We would have to open probably 60-plus offices just to get an office within 30 miles of each person. It's worked well. Our employees are happier because they can work out in the mornings or they can work out at the end of the day because they're not driving in traffic. It’s not only something that's made the business better, it’s something that's made the life of our employees less stressful by not having to commute. So, we've decided to stay remote first.



Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I am a creature of habit. I'm a big believer that one of the keys to being healthy is to sleep enough. There's so much machismo around “oh, I got 3 hours of sleep, I must be a better entrepreneur than the one who got 5 hours sleep.” That's just absolutely not true.

The beauty of working from home is that I can literally get up at 7:30, get ready, showered, have eaten breakfast, and be at my desk by 8:00am. I'm in meetings every single minute of the day, pretty much from 8:00 until 5:00pm or so. Then I rush out the door and go on a bike ride. It's my main form of exercise and I love it. I do it probably about 4 weekdays out of the 5 as I usually have some special function on Fridays. It’s about 5:15pm when I am out the door and I’ll bike until about 7:00pm racing to get home before sunset to eat dinner with the kids from 7:00 to 8:00pm. Then I'm back on my laptop working until 10:00 or 11:00 at night and usually in bed by 11:00 or midnight to do it all again at 7:30am the next day. I will usually work 4+ hours over the weekend.

Another tip - I use my calendar for everything In terms of just staying productive, including my cycling time. It’s all just a little harder when you're on Zoom from 8:00 to 5:00pm nearly every single minute of the day.

It is a little challenging, especially in the afternoons. You feel like, oh, my gosh, I wanna take a nap or something. I have found that just moving around a little bit, like taking a Zoom in the backyard on the patio. Just the fresh air and the change of scenery helps quite a bit. If it's just a one on one phone call with somebody you already know, go for a walk while you're on the call around the neighborhood.

So there's things like that that I use, just to keep the blood pumping and the energy going. Doing those things really do help, although there are no perfect solutions to Zoom fatigue.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

You must be determined - that's a very important characteristic.

I was recently on the board of a company - I had been on that board for 10 years. I helped the CEO start the company and brainstormed the idea 10 years ago. I actually worked for this man and he taught me a lot so when he started his third company and he asked me to help, I was happy to do so. The first idea didn’t quite work and he found a second idea. Then for a number of years, there were various complications where it came to a halt and he had to reinvent the idea again. He just sold the company for a good exit for himself and his co-founders and his investors, but it took 10 years. It took him twisting and fine tuning the company numerous little times, and two major times.

The other quality you must have is to be multidimensional. You can't be a “one-trick pony”. You have to be well rounded and know a little bit about everything to be a great entrepreneur; a little bit about marketing, a little bit about sales, a little about engineering. If you don't, you can't successfully hire somebody and be able to tell if they're good at that function. You have to be a bit of a renaissance person in the sense that you don't have to be an expert at any one of these things, but you do have to be well rounded in many of them.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When somebody insists that they are something, and they say it three times to me. For example, someone saying “Munjal, I just want you to know I'm a straight shooter.” and say it again, “Munjal, you know, I'm a straight shooter,” and they say it a third time, I'm like, hmm, the only thing I know for sure is that you're not a straight shooter, but you're trying to convince me. In fact, you're really trying to convince yourself. I listen a lot to what I call the insistence rule. When someone insists on something over and over again, it is a sign that it probably isn’t true.



If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Any of the world’s great comedians. I find that there are so many things better said with a little comedy. I once spent a summer at Second City in Chicago learning improv. Let’s just say the teacher told me not to quit my day job, but I loved it nonetheless. It made me a better leader, communicator, and maybe even person. Seeing the lighter side of life is a gift not only for yourself but one you can bestow on a team with a simple comment at a stressful time. Comedians have a kind of genius that so many of us would benefit from.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

I love this quote from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

This quote resonates with me because there's always another chapter. When you think you're done, it turns out you are just at the precipice of something new. I think that there’s so many paths in life. One door opens, one door closes, and another door opens that you thought was gone. When I sold my company to Google, I thought I had reached this kind of financial milestone and end goal that every entrepreneur strives for. But it was not the end at all and another door opened. As I always say, I didn't find my mission, my mission found me.


Who is Your Role Model?

Honestly, I really love what Elon Musk does; the grandeur of his ideas. All these guys are like I'm gonna spend my life building this thing. And he's like, “I'm gonna save mankind from its own environmental disaster, two different ways.” He’s creating a Plan B and getting us out of dodge if we have to get out of dodge and go to Mars.

I really admire Elon, but not for the obvious stuff, it's because he is tackling big problems and isn’t just building some silly, little app or “thing”. He's tackling the problems of climate change with electric cars and the problems of if we don't solve climate change, how we're going to want to survive as a civilization - and we may need to go to another planet to do that. These are worthwhile ambitious grand visions that honestly, most entrepreneurs are too scared to have a vision that big.

Unfortunately, the lean startup model encourages the opposite of those big visions. They're, like, well, if you can't build X with 200K to get some traction, you're not worth your salt as an entrepreneur. And it's, like, well, okay, I'm pretty sure you can't get a car out with 200K or can't build a rocket with 200K. You need a lot of capital to launch companies like that; to even undertake such opportunities and so I think that's what makes him tick and very unique.



What Does Success Mean To You?

What we really want at Health IQ is to make an impact on the world. That's why I'm doing this. For me, making more money is not the answer. What will make Health IQ a success is actually improving lives and making people healthier.

 Munjal Shah’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. Eating on the Wild Side

2. Open by Andre Agassi

3. The Emperor of All Maladies

Health & Fitness:

1. Zwift - an indoor cycling training app

2. Tonal - weight lifting machine with electro-magnets

3. The Garmin Radar

Brands:

1. Assos - cycling

2. Rapha - cycling

3. Skins - compression workout clothes


- What I Found
Matt Mullenax | Huron
Matt Headshot.jpg

MATT MULLENAX

Founder & CEO of Huron, a modern-day skin care brand for men.


What Is Huron? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Products Unique.

Huron is a men’s care brand whose mission is to help guys help themselves. We’ve created the intersection of premium products and a relatable vibe. All of our competitors from a product and formulation perspective charge anywhere between 3-10x our price points. Our goal is to pass as much value -- cost savings, education, etc -- to our end customer as possible.


What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space. huron-home-body.jpg

My career has been in the consumer/retail space. I started my career in investment banking covering retail and consumer brands. From banking, I left to join Bonobos in the company’s infancy (6 employees), which was one of the earliest DTC brands (although ‘DTC’ did not yet exist). After Bonobos, I spent time on the investing side at a consumer PE firm.

In my investing role, we looked at so many brands targeting the female consumer and disrupting the category. Amazing product/packaging, compelling founder stories and brilliant management teams. But in my late-20s, I was still going to CVS/Walgreens and buying the exact same products that I had been using for 15-20 years. There was a massive disconnect.

Aside from the professional interest, I was also a kid that grew up with bad skin. I tried everything. I threw the kitchen sink at my skin issues. From wandering the aisles of grocery stores to sitting in sterile dermatologist offices, nothing seemed to work. I finally splurged and purchased a ‘premium’ face wash and for whatever reason, the product resonated with my skin. But I didn’t know anyone who’d a) pay that price point consistently; or b) want to go through that discovery process. So, we set out to build a brand that offers a similar level of product quality and efficacy using the world’s best ingredients, but at a much more approachable price point.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Huron was the street that I lived on in Chicago when my skin issues were at their worst. I wake up every morning with an intimate understanding of the consumer that we’re fighting for. Because I was that guy 10 years ago.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

We operate as a small team of 4. So, there are a number of administrative tasks that we tackle on a weekly/monthly basis that aren’t the most intellectually stimulating. For me, that’s accounting-related tasks, taxes, etc.

Diving into consumer insights has been one of my favorite aspects. Understanding what makes our existing (and potential) customers tick, what problems they’re solving, and what they’re looking for in a personal care brand are data points that we’re maniacal in collecting. So digging into the data to understand how we can position and differentiate ourselves in the category is one of my favorite parts of the journey thus far.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We’ve been fortunate to raise capital from ‘operational-angels’ and funds who have operational experience. We wanted an investor base that consists of ex-operators who have navigated the DTC and consumer landscape, who can help us think through strategic initiatives but also more tactical exercises (hiring, retail, marketing, etc.).


huron-about-02_2048x2048.jpg With So Many DTC Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Huron Launching Products In Other Categories In The Near Future?

We think holistically about our base and where they would (and would not) like to see us. We’re constantly testing new platforms and acquisition channels.

In regards to product pipeline, we will continue to launch products that we know our customers want. This intel comes from anecdotal data points (surveys) but also an intuitive conviction around certain products. Our aim is to help our consumer across the bathroom, so a number of products and product categories are in-play for us.


How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Consumers are much more comfortable (and now attune to) ordering products online. E-commerce will continue to grow and scale as a % of industry-wide sales. However, Amazon has conditioned -- for better or for worse -- consumers to expect 2-day shipping. So fast turnarounds, reliable supply chains, and strong fulfillment partnerships will only grow in importance moving forward.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m very much a morning person. My alarm is set for 4:30am every weekday, but I’m usually up beforehand. I’ll eat a small snack, have a bit of coffee and do some work for 30-45 min before either running or going to the gym. My wife and I make breakfast together every morning around 7:45am and then we start our respective days.

We’ve been WFH since March of 2020, but have started going back a few days per week to a WeWork. Typically I’ll work until 7pm or so, break for dinner with my wife, and then address some email afterwards.

After, we’ll watch whatever show we’re into and try to be in bed before 11pm or so.

I’m a data nerd, clearly, so I leverage my Whoop to lean on sleep stats.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out? huron_pdp_jumbo-shampoo_2.jpg

Constant optimist. Believe in the mission. Set the tone for your team that you’re building something special. Something that is going to work. As a founder/co-founder, the team is looking to you for that confidence and conviction.

Adhere to the golden ratio. I once heard a business leader refer to the ‘golden ratio’ - the fact that we all have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. Internalize the perspectives and voice of your team. What’s working? What’s causing friction and frustrations? Give your team an opportunity to voice how they’re feeling and what challenges they’re facing.

Know your limitations. We’re all guilty of trying to do everything. But it’s impossible. Even at an early-stage, you must figure out how and when to delegate. What are your strong suits that you can lean on? What are areas that are not strengths and would be too costly and/or timely to develop (e.g. Facebook media buying experience, supply chain management, etc.). Execute on the former and delegate the latter.


Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I have a professional mentor who was a high-ranking senior officer in the Navy SEALs. When asked why are the SEALs so successful in their operations, he simply said ‘we don’t pick a fair fight.’

Extrapolated to the startup realm, it’s important to understand where your advantages are and how to leverage them at scale. Is it an organic marketing channel? Is it an important supplier relationship? Is it a retail partnership? Understanding your points of differentiation is imperative to separating from your competition.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Elon Musk. He’s ‘bet the house’ on his own ventures multiple times. It would be fun to learn about how to channel this ‘irrational optimism’ and building at rapid scale.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

This is my favorite time of the year. I’m a huge college football fan. Being from Ohio, Ohio State is my team. My Saturdays revolve around when they play. It’s a nice 3 hour mental break.

My wife and I have also been running together. We’re running the New York City marathon in a few weeks, so it’s been fun to train together and embrace a new challenge.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Building a brand that is customer-first and executes on our vision to be a helpful hand to our consumers.

 Matt Mullenax’s Favorites Stack:

61wC4Zrvi9S.jpg

Books:

1. The Power of Habit

2. Shoe Dog

3. Billion Dollar Loser

Health & Fitness:

1. CrossFit (I go to CrossFit Union Square in NYC)

2. Running

3. Garmin / Whoop

Brands:

1. Nike

2. TenThousand / Wolaco

3. Hoka One

Products:

1. Wandering Bear Cold Brew and Jot

2. Ascent Protein (Chocolate PB)

3. LMNT (hydration) 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. 2pm

2. Morning Brew

3. All-In Podcast


- What I Found
Marc Friedman | Cadalys
cadalys.png

MARC FRIEDMAN

Founder & CEO of Cadalys, a company that works with the newest leading-edge Salesforce® technology to deliver superior solutions to its customers and clients.


What Is Cadalys? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Cadalys builds world-class enterprise business applications that extend the capabilities of Salesforce. The analogy in the personal computing world would be making the best apps for iPhones and Androids. We work closely with the Salesforce product teams and their customers to understand strategic opportunities to expand Salesforce’s capabilities and then build those solutions. We jointly go to market with Salesforce to deliver best-of-breed mission-critical solutions for our customers.

CareIQ is our suite for the healthcare industry. We provide best-of-breed workflows that use world-class evidence-based guidelines to achieve superior experiences and outcomes for payers, providers, patients and the pharmaceutical industry. We automate previously manual processes, which means these superior outcomes happen faster and more efficiently than otherwise possible. The CareIQ suite focuses on Utilization Management, Care Management, Triage, Pop Health, Social Determinants of Health and Member/Patient Engagement.

EngageIQ is a unified platform that enables our customers to engage more effectively and profitably with their employees, customers and partners. The Cadalys Service Management™ solution provides best-of-breed ITIL processes for ITSM and enterprise service management. Cadalys Concierge™ is a next-generation help center for self-service, ticketing and knowledge management. All Aboard™ provides best practices for onboarding, reboarding, transferring and offboarding. Collectively these three solutions provide a superior experience for employees, customers and partners. 



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have a dual MBA in business and IT, which is a perfect foundation for this line of work. I was working at Salesforce and liaising with partners. I quickly found that I didn’t think any of the partners at the time were as good as I expected them to be. I formed Cadalys to raise the bar for what it means to be a partner with Salesforce. Today we work with a carefully curated set of Salesforce partners who have consistently demonstrated the same commitment to excellence in all they do.


What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name? Cadalys-Circle-edits.png

It came from a Greek word that can be translated as “enabling performance that would otherwise not be possible.” This is the way we think about our software and our customers. Our customers are achieving things with their employees, their customers and their partners that they simply would not be able to without our software. It’s a powerful and tremendously satisfying way of thinking about the work we do every day.

For example, we just won the 2021 Salesforce ISV Partner Innovation Award for Healthcare & Life Sciences, beating out hundreds of other solutions. Salesforce and IDC team to award these to Salesforce partners for outstanding innovation of transformative solutions that deliver customer success. We won because our CareIQ suite provides the innovation and transformation that enables our customers to perform at a level that is only possible with our software.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite is far and away the team that we have assembled here at Cadalys. When we win a new strategic client after beating out larger companies that have been around longer, when I see the ideas for our applications that our team has conceived and put into action, and when I receive unsolicited emails from customers telling me how much the team has transformed their business—those are always my favorite.

As for my least-liked part of the entrepreneurial journey, early on, someone whose entrepreneurial journey I respect a great deal told me, “Even when you hate it, you love it.” I definitely agree with that sentiment. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the lack of work-life balance that is typical with entrepreneurs. I don’t think it would ever be possible for me to have an empty To-Do list because there is always something more I can do for Cadalys to help move the ball forward. That’s both the pro and the con of being passionate about a company that is rapidly growing. I hear people say, “Nobody looks back on their life and wishes they would have worked more.” Well, plenty of people do look back on their life wishing they would have played a hand, or thrown their hat in the ring, or taken that one chance to build something and make a difference. So, having taken this journey, I fortunately won’t find myself looking back on my life having not taken the entrepreneurial journey and wondering what might have happened if I had.

The most challenging and exciting moments for Cadalys have been when we win a new customer by beating out competitors that are larger, more established and that have more resources than us. It’s proof of our superior team and products and is a fantastic validation of the work we are doing.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We have been patient and focused on securing strategic investors as opposed to just funding sources. Additionally, we present a realistic data-based forecast that resonates with investors.

Our investors have been fantastic all around. They took the time to understand our business, our unfair advantages and the unique position that we are in. Our lead investor is on the Forbes Midas List and is exploring a joint venture with us in addition to their investment—it’s a huge validation for us. We’ve used the funds for two primary purposes. The first is to expand our sales team to keep up with demand. We get a lot of inbound deal flow, and this has enabled us to take full advantage. The second primary use of our funds has been R&D. We have a lot of powerful features and value drivers in our roadmap, and the expanded team is enabling us to bring these to life faster. This is helping us exploit our unfair advantages and rapidly capture market share.



Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I remember someone once saying, “A players hire B players, and B players hire C players,” and was immediately struck by how that is a sure way to sink a business. I’ve made sure to hire leadership who is better at their jobs than I am, and this has been one of the biggest drivers behind the speed of our growth.

cadalys team.JPG

Our CFO is a former serial CEO with four successful exits under their belt as CEO. They bring a logical, factual, pragmatic, and data-based objectivity to our C-suite. There are a lot of mistakes that we didn’t make because of the experience brought from four successful scale-to-exits and because the data-based objectivity prevents us from making decisions based solely on passion and optimism.

Our CRO, in addition to their prior experience as a CRO, is a former CEO and former COO. Most recently, they were leveraging this rich experience providing guidance and strategic planning to startups and growth-stage companies on how to scale fast to a successful exit. They’d been looking for an opportunity to throw their hat back into the ring at a company with phenomenal potential, and we are honored to have been chosen over the many other alternatives. What they bring to the C-suite is an uncanny ability to think in detail several steps ahead, a methodical approach to revenue generation and an infectious drive for success and constant improvement that has permeated the corporate culture.

Our CTO is the most intelligent sponge I have ever met. You can point them at anything, and they will grok it before you can Google “grok.” Importantly, this applies equally to both business and technology. This dual aptitude enables the ability to truly understand the business challenges our software is solving and how to envision world-class solutions that are both an innovative business solution and a scalable technical solution. It creates a vastly superior result. Our CTO is a visionary but also a healthy skeptic, and this complements the optimism and passion by helping the C-suite look at all possibilities. You can’t plan for the worst-case scenario if you can’t think of the worst-case scenario, and this healthy skepticism helps us make superior strategic decisions and superior software.


Anything Exciting Launching At Cadalys In The Near Future?

Yes. Stay tuned.


What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Cadalys?

It has really struck me how important it is to have a variety of different personalities and ways of thinking as opposed to a company full of clones. The latter is easier—it’s easy to work with people who all think just like you. However, different personalities = different ways of thinking and different viewpoints = more ways of approaching a challenge or a strategy = more opportunities for success. It can sometimes be more challenging to work with people who don’t always think like you and therefore challenge you, and the benefits in the form of additional viewpoints and approaches are totally worth it. No one person ever has all the answers and having varied personalities and varied ways of thinking create a synergy that would never be possible with a room full of clones.



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year- Especially On The Healthcare Side Of Things? Were There Any Major Adjustments Or Pivots You Had To Make Due To The Pandemic? cadalys care iq.JPG

Our CareIQ suite and EngageIQ suite enable our customers to perform more effectively in a COVID-19 world. Our team was already mostly remote—working in cloud computing means we can hire the best people wherever they may be and not need to consider their proximity to a physical office. Internally and operationally, the only material change we made in response to COVID-19 was that we had a hold on travel until the vaccines were available.

We updated the marketing and positioning for both suites to help customers understand the many ways in which our solutions help companies in all stages of a pandemic. COVID-19 has put an additional strain on healthcare companies, and we help them operate more efficiently. EngageIQ helps companies more effectively manage a remote workforce and the additional IT assets required to support them, provide faster access to better information which is important across the entire enterprise, and “reboard” employees, customers and partners with new policies and procedures related to COVID responses.


How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Our enterprise application suites focus on two areas, and as a result, we have insight into both. In both cases, the change is definitive and already underway, and adaptation will be critical for the survival of businesses.

Specifically, the healthcare industry will need to operate more efficiently. For Payers, this means getting approvals/denials correct the first time, rapidly assessing Appeals and Grievances and responding accurately, and using technology to enable Population Health and Social Determinants of Health in ways that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. For Providers, this means using evidence-based guidelines to automate approvals, to reduce readmissions, to more accurately triage patients and to similarly achieve better outcomes. For Pharma, this means bringing new medicines to life faster and at a lower cost. And all of these are true whether you’re talking about something related to COVID or something else. Payers, Providers and Pharma are going to have these efficiency pressures across the board due to the impact that COVID will have on their business.

Across industries, the post-COVID theme can be summed up as “faster access to better information.” There are many facets of this, and I’ll give a few as examples. First is one directly related to COVID, which is quickly educating and informing employees, customers and partners about policies and procedures that may impact them. Perhaps it’s onboarding a global employee base with a new set of in-office work guidelines. Perhaps it’s ensuring customers and partners understand what is expected of them in response to a new CDC or WHO bulletin. Health and safety will remain at the forefront of people’s minds more so than ever.

With the permanent increase in people working remotely, companies have additional IT infrastructure, hardware and software that needs to be carefully monitored and managed. Failure to do so will mean increased costs from unplanned downtime, from excess software and hardware inventory and from excessive support costs.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I wake up between 6:30 and 7 am and play with my toddler daughter until 8 am. I have just started to successfully resist the entrepreneur’s urge to wake up and immediately respond to emails first thing because doing so trains your brain to be reactive rather than proactive. I’ll of course make an exception if I know I’m going to be needed for something strategic.

At 8 am, my daughter and I wake up my wife, and the three of us will play together for a bit. I then head down to my home office and respond to urgent emails. The specific morning and afternoon tasks may vary but usually involve preparing for and running our weekly internal All-Hands company call, having a weekly 1:1 with a direct report, joining strategy discussions with partners, or applying my focus to whatever Cadalys needs at the time.

I take an hour’s break mid-day to spend time with the family. I block off times in my calendar specifically to check and respond to email rather than leaving my Inbox open where every new email popping in could be a potential distraction. I will also block off time in my calendar to work on specific strategic initiatives so that I can work uninterrupted during that time.

I’ll usually take another family break around 6 pm or 7 pm, then wrap up work until around 10 pm when I give my daughter her “dream feed,” and then I go to bed.


What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out? unsplash-image-mcSDtbWXUZU.jpg

Top three qualities:

Data-Driven: It’s natural for humans to be passionate about their work, and even more so with entrepreneurs. This passion can have a disproportionate influence on one’s “gut feel,” and I’ve seen many entrepreneurs fail because their gut was sending them in the wrong direction. It’s important to incorporate cold hard facts into decision-making. We’ve thankfully made some changes in direction along the way based on data-driven analyses, even though it seemed counterintuitive at the time.

Excellence in Delivery: If you treat every meeting, every presentation, every customer interaction and every new feature in your product like it’s critical to the success of your company, the excellence that you deliver will open more doors than you can imagine. The vast majority of Cadalys’ success has been a result of being in the metaphorical right place at the right time. I say “metaphorical” because, like my dad (a successful entrepreneur himself) often says, “You make your own luck.” Meaning, if you continue to produce amazing results, then you’ll mysteriously find yourself in the right place at the right time much more often. When Cadalys was formed, it wasn’t to build best-of-breed Health and Life Sciences solutions, and it wasn’t to build best-of-breed engagement solutions. We arrived at those, however, because we had a long track record of professionalism, exceptional quality of work and a passion for the success of our customers. As a result of that reputation, we were approached by partners and visionaries who helped us shape the ideas for our suites of solutions. We have built our business around ideas, open doors, opportunities and alliances that we would never have encountered by doing work that was only “good.”

Being a Human Weeble: There will be failures. You will make mistakes. You will feel like your career and your company are doomed. You will have other setbacks that you can’t even imagine right now. Weebles always get back up no matter how many times they get knocked down, and that is a trait that you will need to be a successful entrepreneur.

Advice for those just starting out: Entrepreneurs must also be optimists. Optimism is a great thing, and it also naturally makes people overestimate things. For example, optimists are more likely to be late because they believe they can get ready to leave the house faster or that they can do work faster or that traffic won’t be as bad, etc. Optimism tends to make entrepreneurs who are just starting out think their cash will last longer than it will, that they will land more customers faster than they will, that unplanned expenses will be smaller than they will, etc. When you are just starting out and doing your initial financial planning, force yourself to consider a worst-case scenario and factor that into your planning. Optimism is a trait with many benefits that will help you make amazing things happen, and it also can lead to dangerous overestimating.



Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

A good friend of mine used to work at a travel agency. One morning she got a frantic call from an irate customer screaming about how the taxi wasn’t there yet to take them to the airport, and they were going to be late for their flight. My friend was understandably confused about why this customer was calling the travel agency about this and was trying to politely help the customer. The customer screamed, “I GOT THE ITINERARY FROM YOU, AND IT SAYS THE TAXI IS INCLUDED.” My friend thought for a moment and asked, “Do you mean where it says ‘taxes included’?” Long pause...customer hangs up.

The important lesson is that something might not be your fault but might still be your problem. In no way was this the travel agency’s fault, but I guarantee that irate customer immediately swore they would never use that agency again.

engageiq.png

Let’s say someone is trying to use a real-time traffic app on their iPhone or Android, but they forgot they turned off the GPS feature on their phone. The traffic app won’t work. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with the traffic app, but it might look that way to the customer. It's not the traffic app’s fault that the customer forgot they turned off the GPS, but when that person concludes that the traffic app is unreliable and doesn’t work, it is the traffic app’s problem. We’ve infused this lesson into Cadalys in many ways. For example, the latest release of our software makes 160 different checks for things a system administrator might have done wrong that would affect our software. Again, not our fault if the administrator makes a mistake outside of our software, but it is our problem if that mistake makes them think our software isn’t working properly. If the software detects one of the 160 mistakes, it informs the system administrator and shows them how to correct it. This new feature of our software not only reduces tickets logged with our Customer Support Center, but it also helps improve the perception of our software. Once the system administrator realizes something was, in fact, their fault, then it is no longer our problem—it doesn’t inadvertently reflect negatively on our software.


If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Nobel Prize for Chemistry winners Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. I think a discussion with them about their development of the CRISPR genome editing method, the many implications for better crops and the fight against disease, as well as the many ethical facets, would be a fascinating and enlightening hour.


What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

It’s a quote by Walter Scott: “One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.” It resonates with me for reasons I mentioned earlier about looking back on your life and feeling like you really lived it. In the current season of my life, that means rapidly growing Cadalys by providing game-changing software and enabling our customers to achieve things they could otherwise never achieve.



Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

A young boy, who had recently lost his left arm in a car accident, decided to study Judo. After months and months of studying, his instructor was still teaching him the same one move. The boy asked his instructor, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” The instructor replied, “This is the only move you need to know.”

After several more months, the instructor took the boy to compete in his first tournament. The boy surprised himself by easily winning the first two matches. The third match was a more difficult opponent. The opponent charged, but the boy used his one move and beat the opponent. This brought the boy to the finals.

The opponent at the final match was bigger, stronger and more experienced. It seemed certain that the boy was outmatched. However, as the match started, the boy used his one move and won the match and the tournament!

On the way home, the boy asked his instructor how he could have won the tournament with only one move when he was competing against opponents who were bigger, stronger and more experienced. The instructor replied, “You won for two reasons. First, you have been working on mastering one of the most difficult moves in Judo. Second, the only known defense against that move is for the opponent to grab the practitioner’s left arm.”

The parable teaches that what some people might label a weakness might not be a weakness at all but a strength. At Cadalys, when we are up against competitors, we know how they are going to position themselves. We know what they are going to tout as their strengths, and we have a good idea of the ways in which they are going to paint us as having weaknesses. Then, thinking about the specific customer and their business needs, we decide how to use the competitors’ strengths against them as weaknesses and how we are going to position our (mis)perceived weaknesses as strengths.


Who Is Your Role Model?

My dad. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, he has an uncanny ability to distill a situation into its core components and then communicate to people on their level and in their view of the world. This gives him a next-level ability to break through obstacles and get people on board with an idea. I bounce a lot of things off of him.


What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Spend time with my family. I don’t have a lot of free time given the speed of our growth and all it entails, and I try to spend as much time with my family as possible.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Every time I get an email from a customer thanking us for helping them transform their business, that is when I have a tremendous feeling of success. Same when an employee describes how they’ve never before had the opportunity to work with such a driven and passionate team—that is another time when I have a tremendous feeling of success.

 Marc Friedman’s Favorites Stack:

headspace book.jpg

Books:

1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, by Chris Voss

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

3. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day, by Andy Puddicombe

Health & Fitness:

1. TKO urethane hex dumbbells

2. POM

3. Headspace

Products:

1. DoorDash

2. Salesforce

3. what3words

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Pocket

2. The Economist

3. Ars Technica

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Australia/New Zealand

2. Thailand

3. The North Pole


- What I Found
Will Young | Sana
young-will CEO of Sana benefits

WILL YOUNG

CEO & Co-Founder of Sana, a full-stack health insurance solution for small businesses.


What Is Sana? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Sana is a full-stack health insurance solution for small businesses. Sana customers save an average of 20% on healthcare costs while offering their employees rich benefits and access to premium virtual-first care options. There’s a lot under the hood we do to make it work, but it starts with an obsession with patients getting great care at low cost, and it turns out there are a lot of ways to make our health system work better.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my family, and I looked up to them. I loved the idea of creating something new that could benefit society and building a company that people loved to work at. My Co-Founder Nathan Hackley and I came up with the idea for Sana while we were at Justworks, the payroll and benefits company we were at previously. We saw how broken and expensive health insurance was for businesses. It felt like a big opportunity. 

Neither Nathan nor I come from healthcare backgrounds. Across my career, I’ve worked in Hollywood, in big tech, and in startups. Nathan is a software engineer and designer. Being new to the industry was actually a big advantage for us. When a system is as broken as US healthcare, it can be really helpful to start with a blank slate and work on solutions from first principles. That’s how we started Sana and continue to think about problem-solving today.


sana benefits will young ceo.jpg What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The best part of starting a business is the people—getting to work with a small group of talented, mission-driven people to build something new. I’m so proud of the team we have, and I enjoy working with them immensely. It’s energizing. The flipside of that is that at times we’ve hired people who aren’t a fit, and we’ve had to let them go. Managing the cases that don’t work out is the worst part of being an entrepreneur. We invest a lot in our interviewing process to mitigate that risk.

It was so challenging to get our first customer. I understood why prospects were reluctant to try Sana: Who wants to be the guinea pig for a new health insurance product? It took us a year and a half of grinding and selling before we got someone to say yes. We only had so much cash in the bank, and every month the funds depleted a little more. I had so much anxiety about it. If we didn’t land a customer, the business could have died before it even had a chance. That was the hardest phase for Sana. Landing that first customer was the most exciting moment because it marked our transition into having actual operations and things started to snowball from there.


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Fundraising was very hard at the beginning. We raised angel capital fairly quickly, but institutions balked initially. We have a complicated product that spans insurance, healthcare and small business sales and most VCs were overwhelmed with the complexity of it. Nearly everyone we talked with said we were “too early” for them—even some pre-seed firms, which is hilarious. I quickly learned that “too early” was code for “I’m never going to invest.” After kissing a lot of frogs, we got lucky and found a strategic partner from the world of insurance who understood our vision (Greenlight Re) and then found a couple of VCs who didn’t mind taking bets on complicated models (Gigafund and Trust Ventures). They gave us the capital we needed to prove out the business.

Now, fundraising is easier. We have fast growth and happy customers, and it’s more about optimizing for partners and terms instead of an existential concern like it was in the early days. 


Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Nathan Hackley is my Co-Founder. He is excellent at many things that I am not—engineering, design, product management. More generally, he has a rare ability to understand what customers need and translate that into a technical system that delivers the solution. I am much stronger at the business stuff - finance, partnerships, growth, etc. Our skills are different, but we are very aligned on how we want to build Sana. We see eye to eye on mission and values. I trust his judgment implicitly. We both enjoy being non-conformist, which makes working together fun and probably makes us better founders. We were really lucky to join forces at the inception of Sana. We built a lot of great foundational stuff very quickly with just the two of us because we had a very clear understanding of where we were going, divided work into our separate lanes and just sprinted in parallel. 


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year?

Sana operates health plans for our customers, so COVID was top of mind for us more than typical firms. Our member advocates and website are the front doors to care for many of our members, so we tried to help people in need as much as possible. We promoted telemedicine when people were scared to do in-person visits, promoted vaccine availability where possible and made free mental health visits available to members as the pandemic dragged on. 

Inside of Sana, we have always been a remote-first company. In that way, switching to “work from home” wasn’t much of a challenge. In fact, Nathan and I feel like many of our views on distributed work have been validated as companies test it out and find it can be really great for a lot of people.

How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

The silver lining of COVID is that it has laid bare so many issues with our healthcare delivery system and has prompted healthy responses from regulators. Coming out of COVID, I hope we see more sustained adoption of telemedicine, a relaxation of licensing restrictions for practicing medicine cross-borders, more regulations to promote hospital price transparency, and increased support for marginalized groups that are typically underinsured. 


startup sana benefits interview.JPG How Does Sana Stand Out From The Other Modernized Insurance Companies Out There? What Would You Say Is Your Core Competency?

Our core competency is a cultural one. We actually care about your experience with healthcare, and we are trying to make it cheaper and better. The incumbent carriers really don’t care about that stuff. They are too stuck in their ways, and their incentives are perverse in a myriad of ways.


Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule.

I have a year-old daughter who is my alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning. I get to start every day playing with a little baby in pajamas, which I love, even though I am not a morning person. After that, I get ready for work and try to keep the first hour or two of my workday free to think and prioritize. I have a note-taking app, and I keep a daily journal where I lay out my priorities and log what I’m thinking about and whether I’m doing a good job of taking care of myself mentally and physically. That way, I start each day intentionally. The rest of my day is mostly meetings and replying to emails, sadly. It’s not very glamorous. Part of me misses the early days at Sana of focused, quiet work, where I was helping to build the products directly. My job now is mostly coordination between internal stakeholders and talking with investors or strategic partners, so meetings are the name of the game. I don’t work too late most days, maybe to 5 or 6. After work, I try to make time to work out, but I could be better about that. Most nights, I’m good at unplugging for a quiet dinner with my wife and daughter before doing our baby’s bedtime routine. 



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

You really only need one: extreme drive. If you have that, you can figure everything else out. Being a great entrepreneur isn’t rocket science. It is, however, extremely hard. Firing people is hard. Hearing “no” a thousand times from investors and customers is hard. Losing early customers is hard. Entrepreneurship is “Eating glass while staring into the abyss,” as Elon Musk says. You need to have something abnormal under the hood pushing you to persevere. 

My advice for early entrepreneurs, if you’re serious, is to start. Now. Quit your job. Pitch the idea to investors. Start hearing “no.” Stop making excuses. You’ll likely fail, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone, but the only way to know for sure whether it’s for you is to try it.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

In the early days of Sana, I pitched our business idea to a number of “important” people in the industry. In one week, I pitched the CEO of a prominent insurance carrier, and later I pitched the president of an industry association we were joining. Both of those people told me Sana was a terrible idea and I shouldn’t pursue it. I felt so deflated after each call. These were people who had worked in the industry for decades and knew the business inside and out. It was hard for me as a small beans startup founder with no customers to get a meeting with them. I finally got the call set, gave them my best pitch, and they were so dismissive of all these innovative approaches I thought would work. Those conversations shook me and had me revisit all of my assumptions for the business to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time and our angel investors’ money. Ultimately I disagreed with their assessments and continued to pursue the idea.

It’s pretty clear to me now that those guys were full of it. Dead wrong. Didn’t know what they were talking about.

I take a few lessons away from those calls:

First, is that you need to build conviction in your idea from first principles, not from what conventional wisdom says. Trust your own perspective and logic.

Second, is that people who have been in an industry for decades are going to be resistant to change, even if that change makes sense. So don’t sweat it if they don’t see the world as you do.

Third, is that if your business makes sense, but industry veterans think it’s a bad idea, that’s actually something that should make you really excited.

Being contrarian and right is the only way to really outperform as an entrepreneur, and important people telling you your baby is ugly is a symptom of being onto something exciting.



sana benefits plans insurance.JPG If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m really interested in biotech and the science behind increasing healthspan. I think the next several decades will bring some really exciting changes to our ability to program our bodies and conquer diseases. We already are seeing that in a small way with the mRNA COVID vaccines that were synthesized days after sequencing the virus’ genome. So I might meet with a scientist like Jennifer Doudna or Shinya Yamanaka, though I’d probably make a fool of myself because I’m such a novice in that domain. 

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Mostly I hang out with my wife and daughter. I used to read a lot and road bike, but being a Dad really sucks up a lot of free time. 

What Does Success Mean To You?

My favorite business school professor was a guy named Clay Christensen, who sadly passed away last year. He’s famous for coining the term “disruptive innovation,” and his books and class were hugely influential on how I approach company-building. In addition to his books on business, he wrote a book called “How Will You Measure Your Life” that contemplates what it means to live a meaningful life. My main takeaway from it is that success in life is ultimately about how well you cultivate relationships. When I’m at the end of my life, I hope the people around me feel like I’ve made their lives better. To accomplish that, I prioritize spending meaningful, focused time with my family above everything else. With Sana, I care about creating a work environment that people find empowering and inspiring. Ultimately I hope we build a business that makes the world a better place.

 Will Young’s Favorites Stack:

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Books:

1. The Innovators Dilemma (business)

2. Foundation Trilogy (Sci-Fi)

3. The Three Body Problem (More Sci-Fi. I like Sci-Fi, obviously)

Health & Fitness:

1. Garage gym. Lifting heavy weights is the best.

2. Zero - intermittent fasting app

3. Peloton (basic, I know)

Brands:

1. Chubbies (proud Sana customer!)

2. State Bags backpack for work stuff. It’s awesome.

Products:

1. Standing desk from Uplift

2. Cold brew coffee every morning

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

Bali. My wife and I were supposed to go for our honeymoon in 2020 but had to cancel. Someday we will actually do it.


- What I Found
Libie Motchan & Daniel Nelson | Fulton
FultonFounders.jpg

LIBIE MOTCHAN & DANIEL NELSON

Co-Founders of Fulton, a startup that offers sustainable footwear insoles with customized arch support and superior comfort.


What Is Fulton? Tell Us About Your Product and Brand.

Fulton is the modern brand of arch support. Fulton produces comfortable, sustainable, and supportive insoles. We know that full body alignment starts with your feet, and hope to educate consumers about the benefits of supportive footwear on long-term wellness. We also aim to modernize and disrupt a stigmatized category and make orthopedic insoles desirable. Finally, given that the footwear industry contributes to 1.4% of global carbon emissions, we are excited to be using sustainable materials for our entire product.




What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company And How Did You End Up In This Space?

Libie: I have known that I was interested in starting a business since receiving my first allowance. I was a thoughtful hustler; curious to understand the needs of others and find ways to meet them. I thought about different ways to create value. I opened up lemonade stands in the summers, and hosted bake sales after school; eventually, I started a business on eBay when I was in sixth grade. I enjoyed working for myself and the creativity involved in building a business. Furthermore, as the child of immigrant parents, who were both business owners, I never felt tied down to traditional career paths. My mother opened and operated a gallery in Soho and my father ran a graphic design shop. They served as my inspiration and role models, and encouraged me to question the status quo. I also witnessed the ups and downs of owning a business: while my family experienced several years of financial hardship, I learned the value of hard work and perseverance. As I started my career I knew I wanted to start something that would make an impact, but also allow me to utilize my creativity, curiosity, and grit.

Daniel: I have always been fascinated by technology as a means to solve real-world problems. I started my first business when I was in college, helping connect bodegas to their local residents and facilitating convenience item delivery in 15 minutes or less. The product worked well, but this was 2015, and the market for rapid online delivery wasn’t where it is in 2021. Then, I moved into digital consulting, where I helped large multinationals across a variety of industries build technology that was able to deliver value to millions of consumers. I had to quickly learn about commercial banking, insurance, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and more for each project, and figure out how to approach each unique problem. I then went to business school, hoping to find another venture that I’d be able to launch, having experienced both starting my own company and operating at global firms. When I met Libie, we discussed our shared experiences with body pain as a result of unsupportive footwear - immediately, I realized that this industry was ripe for disruption, and that building a better product, brand, and vehicle to educate consumers provided a whitespace that other companies had overlooked.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We chose the name Fulton because it alludes to a street in the heart of New York City. We wanted to build a modern brand of insoles that was relatable to modern consumers, who walk on city streets and need insoles to improve their everyday wellness, as opposed to other brands that target medical use cases or niche demographics.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company? _W__7830_EDIT.jpg

Libie: I never could have predicted how rewarding launching my own venture would be in so many different capacities. First, I am solving a problem that I personally experienced and that resulted in physical pain throughout my body. I have the opportunity to educate consumers, and help them prevent pain in the future, and knowing I am doing that feels really good. Nothing feels better than customers reaching out and sharing how Fulton has healed their chronic back pain, or helped their Plantar Fasciitis; but the best is when the feedback comes from people who have never worn insoles before, because that means that we have effectively educated a customer about the importance of supportive footwear. In addition to helping customers, I feel very rewarded knowing that I have built something new. I don’t have a background in orthotics or podiatry, so I had to learn so much about materials, biomechanics, anatomy, etc., in order to create our first product. It feels so incredible to know that I created something new; a physical product that is different from anything else out there. It required extensive hard work, testing, research, and iteration, but the final product is something I am so proud of.

Entrepreneurship sometimes feels incredibly uncertain. I am the type of person who prefers a clear plan: but with a startup, there is only so much you can predict. Furthermore, since so much of the industry and category is new to me, there are often many more questions than answers. I’ve learned to lean into the uncertainty, by understanding the gaps in my knowledge and prioritizing getting answers. Another challenge of entrepreneurship is balancing life and work. Fulton has become so central to my identity and my life that it is hard to turn it off, and I often don’t want to. I find myself working at all hours. The transition to working on Fulton full time has been challenging as well, and I am still in the process of creating more structure in my work life.

Daniel: My favorite part of the journey has been the fact that I get to consistently keep learning new things: no two days have ever been the same. We incubated a seedling of an idea into a physical product: finding a manufacturer, understanding the technical specifications, selecting materials, and running a pilot. We developed a brand: a name, logo, look and feel, and website. We stood up an international supply chain and launched our company during a global pandemic. The variety of the work that I have been able to do across the lifecycle of building our brand has been beyond rewarding - this has continued to be more interesting as we enter into the post-launch scaling phase of the company.

My least favorite part has certainly been importing our products from abroad. Our manufacturer has been a fantastic partner, but we have experienced extremely high shipping rates, delays, and miscommunications with nearly every shipping team we have partnered with. I’ve had too many late nights and early mornings with customer service trying to understand why our packages were being held up in customs or why they ended up in the Philippines instead of Philadelphia (true story). It’s definitely been a whirlwind, but we paid our dues and now know how it all works!


Tell Us About How Each Of Your Skill Sets Supplements That Of Your Co-Founder.

Daniel has a strong strategy, technology, and operations background, while Libie has a strong marketing and research background. Naturally, those two pair very well for building a digitally-enabled brand. We both have a unique blend of academic, startup, and corporate experience that have given us a holistic understanding of exploring unique problems and scaling solutions.



What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Thus far, we’ve raised a small amount from family and friends to help get the brand off the ground. Since our launch, we’ve been blown away by the feedback from customers and are currently speaking with investors to prepare for a seed round. We plan to invest the funding towards growing the company and building out the organization. We’ve been testing several different channels and are excited to continue building them out.


_W__7140_EDIT.jpg As A DTC Company, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You’ve Implemented That Have Been Most Effective So Far?

We recently launched out of home advertising around NYC; this included wheat posting at construction sites, spray painting sidewalks, and hanging pull-tab fliers around downtown Manhattan. It got a lot of buzz - we were intentionally thinking about meeting people in places where they are walking - so the streets of NYC were a natural place to go!





Do You See Fulton Expanding Into Other Product Categories Relating To Either Footwear Or Wellness In General? Anything In The Works That Will Be Launching Soon?

We’re currently hyper focused on getting our Fulton Insoles into people’s shoes across the country, but we are definitely looking at expanding into product categories. There are many opportunities to create insoles for various types of shoes and use cases, so we are working with our customers to understand their most urgent needs and build out our product roadmap.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth and Operation Over The Last Year?

COVID-19 made standing up a global supply chain incredibly difficult - we were only able to visit our manufacturer once (pre-pandemic) and had to prototype together from overseas for months. Additionally, shipping lead times have been long and prices have been high. Despite the operational challenges, we’ve seen some shifts in favor of our business: people are wearing more comfortable shoes, caring more about wellness and sustainability, purchasing products online, etc. It’s been a very unique time to launch a business, and we look forward to rebuilding as the world emerges from the pandemic.



What Does Your Typical Day Look Like? ATLAS_8396_EDIT.jpg

Libie: I love to start most mornings with either a run or a Pilates class. I’m fortunate to live close to the running path by the Hudson river on the West Side Highway in NYC which I’ve been taking advantage of. I usually take some calls and meetings from home, and then head out to a WeWork for the rest of the day. We’ve been switching locations everyday, so we get to mix it up with new spaces and faces. In the evenings I love cooking meals at home, or in the summer going for picnics or walks - I haven’t been living in NYC for the last two years and I love taking advantage of the nice summer evenings. I often end my evenings with some work, I find myself very creative at the late hours!

Daniel: I generally start my morning by talking with our manufacturer - they’re based in Europe, so are already well into their workday by the time I wake up. I tend to jump into a quick workout, shower, and have tea (no more coffee!) to ramp up my energy and prepare for the day. Then, I take some meetings from home and head out to the WeWork for in person meetings and strategy sessions. Every day is different, but we usually stay at the office until dinnertime. I try to take a walk for 30-60 minutes every day and either listen to a podcast or audiobook as well. I’ve always prioritized taking a nice walk to maintain mental and physical wellness - wearing a nice pair of comfortable, supportive insoles always helps. Then, I head back home and relax a bit before knocking out around midnight and doing it all again!



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Libie:  Gritty, open-minded, and humble. I would advise entrepreneurs to be incredibly open minded, and ask a lot of questions. It’s important to get a broad set of opinions and perspectives bt take everything with a grain of salt because there is truly no “right” way to be an entrepreneur. I also think its important to be open to wearing many hats, and willing to take on any task, no matter how big or small.

Daniel: 

Being a systems thinker- like to deconstruct complex systems and understand how things work, what incentives drive what outcomes in any given industry. You need to become the expert, so if you don’t have a true understanding of the space you are going into, you’ll need to learn how to become the smartest person about it in any given room.

Building out a vision- for me, it’s the best way to understand what you are truly solving for. Rather than just a cool idea that solves a problem, a vision allows you to build a company that will be able to self-sustain and continuously innovate. There are many great ideas, but great companies come from philosophies that are guided by a better vision of how things should work.

Ability to go from 0 to 100 on an idea- as an entrepreneur, you really need to be passionate. It’s going to take some time to truly see the rewards, and you will need to be 100% invested from start to finish. It took us nearly two years to get from idea to launch, and you’ll need to be as passionate on day 720 as you were on Day 1.

_W__7739_EDIT.jpg Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Daniel: Libie and I were in a business school class and we pitched our idea for Fulton. The professor, in a bit of disbelief that young people actually wanted to wear insoles, asked the students in the room to raise their hands if they currently wore some type of orthotic. To everyone’s surprise, about 75% of the room’s hands went up. It was incredibly validating to us as entrepreneurs, learning that this seemingly rare behavior is actually quite prevalent, and taught us to continue trusting our gut and our research despite what others may think along the way.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

Daniel: Roger Federer. I’ve been a huge tennis fan for as long as I can remember, and have always admired his ability to demonstrate true dominance, class, and leadership throughout his career. I’ve always been inspired by his work ethic off the court and his incredibly calm, effortless style of play on the court, and aspire to emulate him as I think about building out my own career and personal life.


What Does Success Mean To You?

Libie: Success means finding and pursuing a career that is fulfilling. For me, that requires work that involves creativity and challenge. I need to be solving problems that force me to think differently and creatively. I’ve always been excited about a career in entrepreneurship because it allows me to do both of these things.

Daniel: To me, success means getting to control your own life. Although I love intellectually stimulating work, I didn’t love the reasons i was pursuing them in the past: “for a client” or “for a manager.” I wanted to find my own problems and solve them, which is why entrepreneurship became so appealing to me. Granted, there’s so much on a given day that is beyond the scope of my control. However, understanding the larger vision I am building towards and getting to create my own day-to-day life in light of that has been incredibly enriching. Success means allowing me to keep controlling where I invest my time and energy, a luxury that I now hope to maintain for the rest of my career. 

 Libie Motchan’s Favorites Stack:

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Books:

1. Shoe Dog

2. The Count of Monte Cristo

Health & Fitness:

1. Body By Bridget - founded by a Wharton alumni- best workout on the internet!

Brands:

1. Girlfriend Collective

2. Youthforia

Products:

1. Trader Joe’s everything

2. Material Kitchen Cookware - their products are so thoughtfully designed, and make it so I can avoid clutter in my small NYC kitchen

3. Headspace

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Nik Sharma’s weekly newsletter

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Italy!

2. Japan



- What I Found
Genevieve Ryan Bellaire | Realworld
Genevieve Ryan Bellaire.jpg

GENEVIEVE RYAN BELLAIRE

CEO & Founder of Realworld, a platform, marketplace, and community to navigate adulthood and important life moments.


What Is Realworld? Tell Us About What You Do, Who Your Target Audience Is, And What Your Mission Is.

Realworld is a first-of-its-kind platform simplifying adulthood for the next generation. Our education-first mobile application and website offer expertly-sourced, personalized, step-by-step guidance, teaching Gen-Z how to make informed decisions when it comes to their finances, health, and work life. Our signature “playbooks” cover big life moments (moving, starting a new job), and everyday events (budgeting, credit cards, going to the dentist), in an easy to follow, achievement-oriented way.



What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m a lawyer by background and started my career in the financial services industry. After I graduated from college, I went directly to graduate school, which meant that I entered the ‘real world’ later than most of my peers. It wasn’t until I started working full-time that I realized that despite being blessed with amazing educational opportunities, I was actually underprepared for many decisions around my finances, health care, taxes, and living situation that I faced after graduation. I began talking about the problem with colleagues, friends, and family and learned that I wasn’t alone in experiencing the pain points of ‘adulting.’ 

I got obsessed with this problem space and realized there wasn’t a company focused on helping onboard young adults into life in the “real world” so I conducted extensive customer discovery by talking to over 1000 people (recent graduates, parents, college administrators, employers, and more) to confirm my hypothesis. The pattern was clear: everyone I spoke to was just muddling through these different life decisions and could benefit from a platform that helped them navigate day-to-day adulting decisions and big life moments. I decided to launch Realworld as the solution. Even today, we’re constantly hearing “I wish I had this when I was younger” which demonstrates the reality that even people a few years into the workforce could use this type of solution!


Realworld Graphic.png What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of this journey is definitely the impact - seeing young people take action on what they learn on the Realworld platform motivates me and our team to keep building and improving our product. Whether a member did something simple like remember to pay a bill on time, or something huge like sign up for an IRA - taking action (and understanding why they’re doing it) is a HUGE win. 

One of the newer challenges has been hiring - it’s a hyper competitive talent market right now as so many people reevaluate what work looks like post-pandemic, and finding the right people for each role has been a time consuming process. That being said, building an amazing team has been one of the most exciting parts of this journey and critical to our success as a company. Each new hire brings fresh energy and enthusiasm for the problem we’re solving and brings a fresh expertise to the table to solve it and propel the company forward to the next milestone. 


What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We closed our seed round of $3.4M in March! The process was modified due to the pandemic (lots of meetings on Zoom) but we were fortunate to end up working with investors who have followed our journey since the earliest days and understand how big our vision is. VC funding has helped us accelerate the speed at which we can build and improve our product, hire a world-class team, and establish Realworld as the leading company in the adulting space. We’ve tripled our team in the last few months and we’re still hiring -- if you’re a stellar Head of Growth Marketing or a Fullstack Engineer who wants to make an impact at a seed-stage, mission-driven startup, reach out to team@realworld.co! More on our investors here:

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Our earliest hires were our Head of Brand, Gillian Katz and our Head of Product, Rebecca Abramson. While my role demands big picture, visionary thinking, Rebecca is able to provide a tactical, structured plan of execution. Gillian is responsible for speaking to the emotional side of the user experience, making sure our platform is fun, visually delightful, and resonates with our member. I think big, Rebecca thinks tactically, and Gillian thinks creatively - without each in harmony, Realworld would not be nearly as impactful as it is today. 



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year?

COVID-19 presented challenges for every company. We launched our new web app in April 2020, and while launch did not look like we had initially planned, our resources were actually more critical than ever, as the Classes of 2020 and 2021 learned to navigate the evolving workplace ecosystem. We created an entirely new vertical of content around unemployment, furlough, and the impacts of COVID on student loans, leasing, and more. 



960x0.jpg Can You Tell Us About Some Of Your Numbers? How Has Growth Been Over The Past Couple Of Years?

Before this Spring, Realworld worked directly with universities and colleges to provide resources to their seniors and recent graduates. Throughout the last year, especially due to the impacts on this population during COVID, we decided to pivot to offer our platform for free to anyone regardless of their affiliation with a partner school. Not only did this model make more sense for the release of our mobile application and our community’s growth, but it was completely in-line with our mission to provide equitable access to resources to anyone navigating adulting. 



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The company was founded with the name Realworld Playbook - it tells you exactly what we are, a playbook for life in the real world. When we focused our attention on creating a consumer-driven experience, we shortened the name to Realworld. The platform covers everything you need to know about life in the ‘real world’ from personal finances, to taxes, to health insurance, to employer paperwork, etc. Our goal is to become the “real world” company. 


Tell Us About Your Daily Routine.

I wake up around 6am and exercise, then take the subway down to our office in SoHo. I am a big “breakfast person”, so I pick up something on the way in (I'm loyal to the local deli). 

That’s about where the routine stops, as every day is truly different and I never know what to expect. From working on product direction, to checking in on growth, to connecting with investors, new talent, and others in our network - every day brings a new challenge and a new exciting opportunity for Realworld. 



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I’ve learned that the most important traits to have when starting a business can be summed up in the “3 Rs” - Resilient, Resourceful, and Relentless. You have to be able to bounce back from (constant) adversity, operate with little resources across time, talent, and treasure, and to persevere through the many challenges that starting a company brings. Hearing ‘No’ is par for the course when it comes to entrepreneurship - so facing that head-on with a scrappy, flexible, and optimistic mindset is a huge part of striving for success. Just keep going. 

As far as advice, I’d tell new entrepreneurs to build a network of other founders, funders, operators, and advocates who they can turn to for advice at every turn. There’s no way to know what to do at every stage of a company’s lifecycle, so it’s key to have a personal board of people who have been there before and who have either been successful at it or who have made mistakes they can protect you from making in your own business. 



good.png If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Lin-Manuel Miranda - he’s so creative and has defined a new genre. As someone working to build a category-creating company, it would be inspiring to hear about how he’s created new spaces for innovation and what process he uses to think outside of the box. As an American History buff, I’d also love to talk to him about Alexander Hamilton! 


What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is three-fold: 1. Building a company that has a meaningful impact on the next generation, 2. Building a company that people want to work at, and 3. Creating quality jobs for people. 

When building a mission-driven company it always comes back to impact - having an impact on our users and their experience is what drives me and my team, and that’s ultimately how we measure the success of Realworld.

 Genevieve Ryan Bellaire’s Favorites Stack:

Books:

1. No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings

2. Get Together by Bailey Richardson

3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Health & Fitness:

1. Daily Harvest

2. Equinox

3. Alo Yoga

Brands:

1. Outdoor Voices

2. Glossier

3. Thousand Fell

Products:

1. Remarkable Tablet

2. AirPods

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. StrictlyVC Newsletter

2. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Morocco

2. South Africa

3. Chile


- What I Found
Richard Shirtcliffe | Noho
NOHO_day_1_hero_lounge_2455.jpg

RICHARD SHIRTCLIFFE

Co-CEO of Noho, a modern, direct-to-customer furniture company.


What Is Noho? Tell Us About Your Brand, Mission, And What Makes Your Products Unique.

Born in Aotearoa New Zealand, noho sprang from 20 years of groundbreaking performance furniture design, so in its simplest terms noho is a modern, direct-to-customer furniture company. But we do think very differently, about furniture, about design, and about the role of a company in improving the planet. We think furniture should look and feel good while doing good for our planet, so we've set out to help people 'sit healthier', by creating Life Enriching Furniture™: beautiful, versatile, and built to last a lifetime. 




What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’ve had a wonderfully varied career, traversing roles, categories, sectors, and countries! But the broad connecting fibre has been that I love to build powerful stories, turn them into growth businesses and export them around the world. Noho is just the latest, but it is special because it’s the first in what I hope will be a series of businesses devoted to tackling waste plastic by disrupting highly polluting sectors.

Noho itself was born out of two epiphanies. The first was a design insight. Namely, after decades pioneering performance ergonomic seating for the office, our designers at Formway spotted the need to bake dynamic ergonomic comfort into beautiful residential furniture. Essentially we’re all born to move, but typical home furniture is static and doesn’t permit us to. The designers saw the opportunity to remedy that. 

The second was my experience of surfing with my wife and small children in Bali and witnessing the unchecked sea plastic. The opportunity that presented was to bring together these origin moments into a brand that creates ‘life enriching furniture’ designed to enrich homes, bodies and planet. The first of those products is the revolutionary noho move chair.



What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Starting businesses isn’t for the faint of heart! If you fear uncertainty and ambiguity, then don’t do it!! Whilst I’m human in feeling stress and pressure, almost constantly, I do tend to keep sharp focus on the mantra ‘what if it goes right?’. All too often we focus on the downside and not the potential. Starting a company, with immensely talented people, that’s designed from the ground up to leave a positive imprint on people & planet, certainly helps keep the energy up! But launching it just as the world collapses into a global pandemic isn’t something I’d willingly do again….! But we’ve come through 2020 intact and we’re now flying, which is gratifying.

I guess that I’m a bit of a sucker for all of this, because later this year I’m launching another ocean plastic fighting business : WILDClean!



move - upholstery.jpg Tell Us About The Early Days At Noho. How Did You Go From Concept To Launch? Did You Bootstrap Or Fundraise?

Noho is all funded off balance sheet by our parent company, Formway. So whilst we’ve had resources, we’ve also had to be extremely lean. Anyone who’s started a company with lean resources will relate to the reality of being ‘always on’, of covering multiple roles, and having to learn new disciplines at lightning speed. But lean also means innovative - great ideas typically develop where resources are scarce, not abundant. Just ask Lord Earnest Rutherford, the first person to split an atom (beating out the wildly better funded teams at MIT and Oxford).


The driving design insight that led to us creating noho, was the development of what became the noho move chair. That product took 4 years and thousands of hours of prototyping to complete. Wrapping the brand and business around that concept was a relatively swift 18 months!




Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

It’s really been a team effort, in which I’ve played only one small part. The award winning designers at Formway - Kent Parker and Paul Wilkinson - made this all possible through world changing design. The directors of Formway made it possible by backing the creation of noho; Richard Cutfield (Formway director) championed the opportunity; and the noho team of Richard C, Dan Gentry, Jennifer Pfeifer and Sarah Shirtcliffe have birthed the business through sheer grit and determination!



How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year? Did You See More Or Less Demand? Any Issues With Manufacturing, Shipping, Or Logistics?

It’s been brutal. Our launch was timed for April 2020, so all launch activity, media, and most of the digital marketing was cancelled in the face of COVID. But we had some things flow our way too. The urgent demand for ergonomic chairs for WFH spurred demand for noho move chair and helped spread the word, while New Zealand (where we manufacture the chairs) knocked out COVID in 6 weeks so manufacturing and freight weren’t seriously impacted. It’s fair to say that 2021 is presenting all new supply chain issues driven by excess demand…



How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

The furniture industry is exceptionally wasteful and polluting, as a rule. My hope is that the global shock caused by COVID may cause customers to demand better of all companies. But speaking frankly my hopes of that aren’t high! Meanwhile I think COVID will directly affect the preparedness of Gen Z and millennials to rent rather than purchase furniture, to reduce consumption and their commitments to material assets.



NOHO_day_1_hero_kitchen_2026.jpg Can You Tell Us About Some Of Your Numbers? How Has Growth Been Over The Past Couple Of Years? What Do You Anticipate Will Growth Will Be Like This Next Year?

We don’t disclose our numbers, sorry. However I can tell you that 2021 is proving a signal year! Sales have grown about 50% month-on-month since Feb, and we anticipate that continuing through this year so long as we can stay in stock!



Anything Exciting That Will Be Launching Soon?

Yes - we’re launching some accessories soon, and a new platform product later in the year.



What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We’re from Aotearoa (New Zealand). The indigenous language is Te Reo Maori, in which ‘noho’ means ‘to sit, to stay, to dwell, to live’, which encapsulates what we’re about in such a perfect way. We’re passionate about taking the best of New Zealand design to the world and doing so on a foundation of Maori values.


Richard_Shirtcliffe_Chayce_Lanphear.jpg Tell Us About Your Daily Routine.

5.30 alarm (uurghhh). 6am gym (uurghhh).

7am cup of tea #1. 7.05 cup of tea #2.

7.15 wake the kids and accede to their dizzying array of breakfast requests and gobble some myself.

7.45 help my wife make the kids’ lunches. 8.00 emails (uurrggh).

8.30am massive pot of coffee and first round of zoomageddon (team call).

9.00/9.15 zoom 2 (agency call).

10-12 varies by day, but always involves a small percentage of admin, a bigger percentage of tactical work (usually marketing related), and a disturbingly small percentage of strategic work.

12pm- mountain bike ride, or occasionally a surf.

1/1.30 lunch. 2-5 team zooms and more project work.

5-8 family time: kids after school activities/sports, dinner, bedtime routine and books.

8.30 clearing email backlog (usually just hitting delete…). 9pm decompress time.

10pm wake up on the couch and crawl to bed.



What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Resilient. Empathic. Excellent communicators. (oh, also curious. And lucky…)

My advice would be to ignore 99% of the advice you didn’t request, listen to all the advice you did request. Then do it anyway. Also, if you’re young enough to not have financial dependents or debt then embrace risk, because the downside isn’t huge and you’ll learn plenty.



Tell Us About Something That Makes You Laugh.

I get all of my philosophies (in life and business) from comedians. Notably Billy Connolly and Jerry Seinfeld. So the list of things that make me laugh is too long to note here!




If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Excellent question and tough to answer. Greta Thunberg would be right up there. She’s unceasingly focused, and has demonstrated the extraordinarily positive impact just one person can have on the world.



What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m largely an active relaxer, as is my wife. So we tend to take any small opportunity - between kid commitments - to mountain bike or kite surf. I love reading books but I’m hopeless at making time to get through the ever increasing pile.



Wool Topper range.jpg What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

Dalai Lama: ‘If you think that you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito’.

I think it’s self explanatory!!



Who is Your Role Model?

My Dad. Renowned geo-physicist and phenomenal dad. Also my mum: a true female pioneer as the first producer, director and presenter on television in New Zealand (obliterating a glass ceiling of the time) and devoted mum.   

And, if pushed, Leonardo DaVinci - how did that dude do so much in one lifetime???!


Any Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events?

As a New Zealander my thoughts regarding the socio political climate in the US possibly aren’t especially valuable! But living in the US through COVID and Trumpageddon I did form the view that the US is facing some extremely tough times, and the need to resolve internal issues that have been left unresolved for generations, along with urgent modern challenges like plastic waste and climate change. The country is a beacon of possibility for many around the world and I truly hope that it can chart a path away from broken partisanship and entrenched positions. It will be to the betterment of both the US and the world. The inverse also applies.


What Does Success Mean To You?

More time in shorts. With my family.

 Richard Shirtcliffe’s Favorites Stack:

unsplash-image-pu40LpUjv5I.jpg

Books:

1. Good to Great. Oldie but still the seminal growth business tome

2. Any book by Martin Cruz Smith or Keri Hulme (especially The Bone People)

3. Growing Great Boys (and Growing Great Girls).

Health & Fitness:

1. Mountain Biking

2. Surfing

3. F45

Fashion:

1. Outerknown

2. Deus ex Machina

3. iLabb

Products:

1. Coffee Supreme

2. Coffee Supreme

3. Coffee Supreme

4. Double Vision Brewing chillax (or 4 noses ‘bout damn time, if you’re in the US)!

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Seth Godin

2. Tim Ferriss

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Hatepe, Lake Taupo (New Zealand) - my ‘turangawaewae’ or place where I feel most connected - to relax

2. Treble Cone, Wanaka, New Zealand (to ski!)


- George Deeb, Contributor
Don’t Be The Smartest Guy In The Room
Nobody likes working for a know-it-all control freak. Hire smart, listen more than you speak, and good things should happen for your business. Let's compare a couple executives to help make this point.
- Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member
15 Effective Ways To Normalize Discussions About Failure
While failure in the workplace is seem as something that must be avoided at all costs, moments of failure are also opportunities for growth.
- Bernhard Schroeder, Senior Contributor
The Right Way To Fire A Client Or Customer That Is Toxic To Your Entrepreneurial Business
Letting a toxic client go before they damage your entrepreneurial company is critical both to relieve stress and lift employee morale.
- Tejas Dave, Forbes Councils Member
Should E-Commerce Retailers Look To Physical Stores?
While many retailers are now opening physical outlets to continue to grow their businesses and diversify the ways they serve their customers.
- Per Sjofors, Forbes Councils Member
Putting Pricing Strategy As A Centerpiece Of Your Business
Looking at a company's pricing strategy can lead to unsurpassed business results, customer satisfaction and increases in shareholder value.
- Marc Devisse, Forbes Councils Member
How To Build A Growth Mindset In Eight Steps
A growth mindset can be developed over time, but it takes effort.
- Caesar Indra, Forbes Councils Member
Sports Tourism And The Pandemic’s Impact On Global Travel
Sports tourism might just be the ticket to motivate tourists to take flight again. Businesses in the tourism industry should prioritize building holistic, connected experiences to improve their exposure to sports tourists looking for end-to-end services as well as enrichment.
- Andrew Ellenberg, Forbes Councils Member
How To Use Podcasts To Elevate Your Brand And Connect With Audiences
One of the reasons podcasts are so successful—and make great branded content—is that people can listen to them anywhere.
- Jeri Frank, Forbes Councils Member
Why Technology Adoption Is Necessary In Commercial Real Estate
To stay competitive, real estate businesses must adopt new strategies and practices.
- Christopher Marquis, Contributor
In The Costly U.S. Health Care Market, Mark Cuban’s Company Has A Plan To Reduce Prescription Drug Costs
By operating transparently as a public benefit corporation, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company aims to expand affordable access to medication and help to reshape the $4.1 trillion U.S. health care industry.
- Alex Vasquez, Forbes Councils Member
How To Set Rental Rates & Rent Increase Strategies
Knowing how much rent to charge and how to go about raising rents are critical components of ensuring that a real estate investment is profitable.
- Gene Marks, Contributor
On CRM: Yes, Salesforce Really Did Just Introduce A "Groundbreaking" CRM Feature...Except For One Thing
Salesforce's Genie is a very cool thing. If you have the budget.
- Michael McFall, Forbes Councils Member
A Strategic Sabbatical Can Help Your Employees Survive Burnout
Allowing employees to fully step away from work can be a great way to minimize the effects of burnout.
- Perry Carpenter, Forbes Councils Member
Think Like A Marketer To Onboard Employees With Cybersecurity
Security is a journey and a conversation, not a destination and a directive.
- Expert Panel, Forbes Councils Member
10 Strategies To Ramp Up Positive Publicity For Your New Business
Building awareness requires an effective public relations strategy that can create a steady stream of positive news about your company.
- Joe Carbone, Forbes Councils Member
Eight Tips On Having A Difficult Conversation With Your Boss
Here's how you can prepare to have a difficult conversation with a direct supervisor so that when you are faced with confrontation, you stand firm and feel heard.
- Ryan Lucia, Forbes Councils Member
Every Company Has A Culture; Is Yours Good Or Bad?
Having an amazing company culture is a commitment: a commitment to not making the easy choices, to placing your people before profit, to looking long-term and staying engaged with daily operations.
- Matthew Ramirez, Forbes Councils Member
Five Ways To Achieve Product-Market Fit Before You Start Building Your Startup
It is important to approach a market thoughtfully by listening to customers and processing their needs before embarking on a solution.
- YEC, Forbes Councils Member
Part 1: Four Challenges Of Immigrant Entrepreneurs In Canada And How To Overcome Them
Entrepreneurs are a powerful force driving innovation and economic growth. They take risks, create jobs and are the backbone of the Canadian economy.
- Michael McMullen, Forbes Councils Member
Work-Life Balance Is A Myth: Three Fundamental Truths That Will Serve You Better
Striving for “balance” can make things worse rather than better.
- Francis Nwokike
Top 3 SEO for Your Business Services

Your business can see major benefits from getting to the first results page of search engines. Being at the top of the search results means you will get most of the customers who search for your products or services. The best way to get there is through Search Engine Optimization. However, Search Engine Optimization is a complex and ever-changing topic, so it is always best to let an SEO services company handle the work for you while you focus on running your business.

SEO Services for Your Business

What Do SEO Companies Offer?

SEO companies offer web services that help improve your business visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search Engine Optimization is done both through internal and external means. Internally, the website is optimized by working on the website’s structure, loading speed, usability, and content to improve how search engines view and rank it. Externally, it is done through creating backlinks on other websites that point to yours.

The more SEO companies optimize your website and its content; the more likely your business is to rank within the first search results for specific queries related to your activity. Not only do SEO companies help you optimize your website, but they also provide an expert audit for your business. This audit can help determine the best keywords to build your strategy upon. Furthermore, it will provide insights into how your website is performing.

A major benefit of working with an SEO services company rather than hiring an SEO expert is that their combined experience can provide more value for your business. They also have more experience in bringing results for different niches. An agency’s expertise will ensure you won’t invest time and resources in strategies that won’t bring any results. This expertise is gained through years and years of testing different methods for different clients and seeing what works best.

Most SEO agencies have a dedicated team of SEO experts with proven skills and many years of experience in the field. This experience can be valuable for your business because it helps generate major results in a shorter time. SEO companies offer a few major services:

SEO audits SEO strategy Website optimization Content creation (Articles, blog posts, website content, press publications)

Overall, the working process when collaborating with an SEO agency includes the following:

They audit your business They come up with a plan for your business They implement the plan according to your business needs They provide reports on the work done and the results provided What Are SEO Services 

SEO services are represented by all the processes involved in bringing visibility for your website in Search Engine Results Pages. These services can range from audits, website structure optimization, loading speed optimization, and content creation to backlinks and competitor analysis. These services are important for setting up the right keywords, increasing website traffic, gaining more clients, and increasing brand awareness.

The job done by an SEO agency depends on what kind of SEO services your company needs. This is usually agreed upon based on the results of the audit. Most of the time, content creation and backlink generation are the two main services most businesses need. The best way to understand these services and how they connect is to look at them individually.

Factors To Consider When Outsourcing Your IT Services

Business Website Audit & Analysis 

Most SEO services companies will insist on doing an audit before they begin the actual optimization process. This is because the audit is the most important part of the Search Engine Optimization process. Not even the best strategies will provide good results without a proper audit. Therefore, you can consider the SEO audit as the base on which the progress will be built.

A business website SEO analyzes different aspects of your online presence to determine what optimizations need to be done. It includes the following checklist:

Researching the keywords related to your niche Establishing keywords search volumes and competitivity Picking the right keywords to focus on Analyzing your website’s structure Analyzing your website’s speed Analyzing the User Experience on your website Checking for errors and broken links Checking your website’s content Researching your competitors Checking your backlinks

All these steps will help the SEO agency find out what kind of work they need to do for your business to achieve your goals. They will find out who your audience is and create a content plan for your website. The SEO company will also check your competition to see their level. After knowing all this information about your business website, they can establish a tailored plan for you. The plan’s main focus will be to get your website to the first search results for the focus keywords. The SEO audit is the first and most important part of Search Engine Optimization services for businesses.

Strategy From SEO Services Company 

After the audit is finished and your Search Engine Optimization partner has the required data about your business, website, keywords, and competitors, it is time to move on to planning. Knowing what your business does, your target audience, and what your competitors do allows your SEO services company to set realistic goals for your campaign. Knowing the focus keywords and what kind of content needs to be published on your website, your SEO partner can create a long-term content strategy for your business. These steps are all part of the general SEO strategy. You should not expect immediate results from Search Engine Optimization. The process can take anywhere from three months to one year before your website will climb up the ranks until the first page of search results. However, you should expect your SEO partner to meet the goals you’ve set at the beginning of the collaboration.

It is important to pick an SEO agency that will explain the whole strategy in simple terms for you. It is very important to let the business owner know what will happen and not let him in the dark. Search Engine Optimization is not a leap of faith. It requires good communication from both parties to make the result even greater. If an SEO agency doesn’t want to share information with you and asks you to leave everything in their hands, you should take it as a red flag and find another company to partner with.

Content is King and good for SEO

Content Creation

You might have heard that content is number one when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. That is true only if the previous steps are done correctly. If you have an optimized website, your keywords are set up well, and you have backlinks to your business website. The content will differentiate the top companies from the lesser ones in terms of visibility. You should ensure your SEO partner has talented and experienced writers working for them. The general rule is that you should always provide better content than all your competitors. Since you might be operating in a competitive niche, your content has to be the best. That means the visitors should find more useful information by reading your content, and search engine algorithms should view it as more optimized than the other websites.

Since content is so important for a business from an SEO perspective, most Search Engine Optimization agencies will provide content writing services. This may include writing articles, blog posts, press releases, and website content. Their writers should have several years of experience in the SEO writing niche. Experience in your business niche is not necessarily required since writers usually do thorough research before they start writing content. However, it is important to evaluate the content yourself from a visitor’s perspective and see if you find it helpful. If you have any objections or tips, you should share them with your SEO partners to help them create better quality content.

The articles and blog posts written by the SEO company should adhere strictly to the content plan and focus on the researched keywords. While Search Engine Optimization is known to not bring in immediate results, you can’t always know if the agency is doing a good job or not. You can generally combat that by setting plenty of goals for the beginning of the collaboration and seeing if they can manage to complete them. Within the first six months, you should see your website grow in the Search Engine Results Pages for the keywords you focused on.

Even if Search Engine Optimization is a long-term process, it has major benefits. If you find an expert SEO services company that can get your business to the top of the Search Engine Results Page, you will be the first choice for most people searching for products or services related to your business. Whether you want to be number one locally, nationwide, or globally, Search Engine Optimization is the best way to obtain that spot. In addition, of all the digital marketing strategies, SEO offers the best Return of Investment over time. Once you get to the first spot, you will gain new clients for free, and your brand will keep growing.

The post Top 3 SEO for Your Business Services appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Rajalekshmy KR
Top 15 Profitable Software Ideas for the Future

Are you interested in creating a software development company of your own? If so, you’ve come to the right place because here, you’ll learn about some of the most popular software development startups and profitable software ideas for the future.

People’s perceptions evolve with time. People are more willing to quit their 9-to-5 employment so they can create their own businesses. Compared to the past, individuals are more inclined to take chances. End-user technology goods and services are the focus of tech startups.

The best thing about a tech startup is that it may be discovered via the development of correct application software without the need for an initial financial investment. A startup may rapidly become a profitable firm with proper preparation and creative ideas despite the risks. As a consequence, new businesses generate additional jobs and stimulate the economy.

The top software projects for the future may now be identified based on your newfound knowledge of the industry’s breadth and depth. Read on as I share the top profitable software ideas for startups in the coming years.

Top 15 Profitable Software Ideas for the Future

Create a Medical/Healthcare Software

Medical software keeps track of a patient’s medical history electronically. Many clinics and hospitals are seeking automated patient record entry. As a result, you may approach these clinics and hospitals with the advantages of your electronic health records and want to sell your software to them.

Statista predicts that by 2025, the worldwide economy for medical software will be worth $11 billion. In 2018, the total was over $2.4 billion. As a result, this place has a lot to offer. Several healthcare software development businesses are available to assist you in creating medical software and realising your concept.

Blockchain-Based Invoicing App

Here is a cutting-edge solution for enterprises’ billing and invoicing needs. Blockchain technology is used to develop these applications, including contracts, Ethereum, and hyper ledger.

Blockchain technology’s capacity to accelerate tax and billing calculations is a boon. Any transaction may be tracked on the blockchain. This enables the company to create invoices more rapidly and better manage its operations. Other blockchain-based apps can also be used to enter contracts.

E-learning Software

Due to a global epidemic, physical attendance at schools was affected, but the study could not be halted hence the increasing demand for online learning platforms. E-learning platforms with course structures, syllabuses, assessments, and more became an excellent option for students to access. Most schools made their courses available online while others are working on joining the trend.

As a matter of fact, students benefit from a variety of online courses that assist them in better grasping and mastering a variety of subjects. So, if you’re launching a tech company, you might want to think about implementing an e-learning program.

Create a Time Tracking Software

Employees’ time is tracked via a time tracking application. Organisations find this helpful software since it lets them see which employees spend the most time at the workplace.

Several people have made a fortune with time monitoring software and are still generating money every time their app is installed. Time monitoring software can also help improve the productivity of a business.

A software development company can develop an app that records check-ins, check-outs, and the time spent by employees. You may get in touch with these groups and enlist their assistance in bringing your concept to fruition.

Automated Payroll System

Payroll automation is a lucrative economic opportunity for software developers. These software technologies reduce the human work required to pay employees on schedule and without fuss.

Consequently, these technologies are also helpful for businesses in determining the entire amount and paying fast, aiding in quicker tax calculations, making financial record keeping more solid, and eventually aiding in better financial management.

Media and Entertainment Software

A career in media and entertainment will never go out of style. To have fun, people need to be able to relax and unwind. As long as the solution allows people to modify their options and locate better material, it’s a solid option. Choosing design software that helps media organisations to promote their material and attract more people is also a viable option. This means that a startup in the news & entertainment software industry is a brilliant idea.

Create Customer Relationship Management Software

It is possible to sell this software to a wide range of startups. You’ll also get paid on a subscription basis. It means you will be making passive income from your consumer.

Industries may benefit from customer relationship management software. It performs crucial duties. CRMs are used by nearly all businesses to keep track of their projects. This may be an excellent concept for a software project to build a CRM.

Is a CRM Solution Helpful for Your Business?

You may take advantage of this opportunity to establish a business and go forward in your life! You can even outsource your app development to different software development companies. You only need to get in touch with them, and they’ll take care of everything.

Also read: Is CRM Solution Helpful for your Business?

AI Shopping System

Those looking to build their own companies in the age of AI can consider developing an AI-based purchasing system. The AI shopping systems may keep track of the most frequently used terms, search trends, and purchase histories. Data on a wide range of items are also available to them. This, in turn, aids customers in their buying endeavours.

Audio to Text Conversion Software

With the use of Machine Learning, this type of software can convert audio to text format, which is more search engine friendly. Automatic voice recognition software that can convert audio recordings to text files is available online.

Use Amazon Transcribe as an audio-to-text software example.

Banking and Finance Related Software

Because of the epidemic and the lockdown, the banking industry is being pushed to go online to an unprecedented degree. The vast majority of transactions are now carried out on the internet. As a result, a tech firm with simple-to-use but safe software may be quite successful. An android application for financial payment transactions becomes even more necessary in this circumstance.

Gaming Software

Miniature gaming is an excellent option for your top tech company idea. Online gaming is flourishing, and new people sign up regularly. Gaming software is a great business concept.

Disaster Alert App

Cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, and flash floods may now be anticipated using geographical indications and improved weather forecasting techniques. Based on these indicators, you may create an emergency alert software.

AccuWeather is an excellent example of a successful disaster alert app.

Travel Planner Software

All travelers can benefit from software that helps them organise their vacations. Allow users to select from a wide selection of options for destinations. In addition, the app will enable users to plan budget-friendly vacations and provides information on unique goals to see.

Business Communication Software

Certain businesses use this type of software since it’s mainly designed to facilitate professional communication amongst team members. It’s possible to target both small and large enterprises in this way. Offer them your software.

Some of the best software outsourcing organisations in the industry can assist you. They can also help you figure out how to make the most of your money. Enter the market with software that facilitates and enhances professional communication.

All-in-One Booking Software

Demand for all-in-one software is growing and the majority of users prefer all-in-one software. Users dislike having to switch between applications for different tastes.

Indian software development businesses may develop this type of software for you at an affordable rate. Afterward, you may begin promoting this application, and soon enough, you’ll notice a lot of visitors and money pouring into your website.

Final Words

It’s incredible how far programming and software development have gone since the abacus and Alan Turing, widely considered the founder of theoretical computer science and contemporary artificial intelligence, in the early 1950s.

New possibilities are emerging, and new software development methodologies may allow humans to colonise Mars one day. Good quality and risk management are essential for a thriving tech startup to have all four components. You may find several options in this area as well. Many software businesses don’t require further funding, so this is an excellent opportunity to see whether you’ve got what it takes.

The post Top 15 Profitable Software Ideas for the Future appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
6 Tips To Choose the Right Credit Card for Your Business

Choosing the right credit card for your business is a daunting task. With so many credit cards with different offers and perks, it becomes tough to know which one is the best fit for your company.

Tips To Choose the Right Credit Card for Your Business

This article discusses some key tips to help you choose the right credit card for your business.

Figure out what kind of credit card you need 

To make the best decision for your business, start narrowing down your options. Do you want a card with rewards points? A low interest rate? No annual fee? Know what kind of card you need before you start applying for cards.

The credit limit on business credit cards has to be higher than personal credit cards. If you need help with cash flow or business expenses, choose a card that offers a high credit limit.

Balance transfer credit cards is a good option if you need some breathing room to pay off your debt without accruing interest. These cards offer a low or 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on balance transfers for a promotional period of time. Employee credit cards are a great way to help manage business expenses. Some banks may offer special rates or cards at no additional charges for adding employee cards to your account.

Gauge your business’s current spending habits and predict future spendings when deciding. Do you travel often? Do you entertain clients often? Do you make a lot of purchases online? 

If your business is affiliated with a specific brand or retailer, for example, co-branded cards might be a good way to earn rewards when you spend there. These cards usually come with special perks, like rewards points or cash back, when you use them at the affiliated stores. Similarly, if your business spends a lot on travel, you might want to get a card with travel rewards (which brings us to our next tip).

Check the perks and rewards

Many credit cards come with perks and rewards like cash back, points that can be redeemed for merchandise, or travel miles. Make sure the perks offered by the card align with your business needs so you can get the most out of your card. 

If you’re looking for a business credit card with rewards, compare the different programs to see which one offers the best benefits. For instance, you can get cashback with a Juni card. The card offers discounts at eligible spends such as certain retailers or restaurants.

Selecting a rewards program benefits your business if you calculate the cash value of the perks and rewards.

Remember the perceived value of the points is not always the same as the cash value. For instance, getting 8000 points on a transaction may sound great, but if those points are only worth $5, it’s not as good of a deal as it sounds.

Compare interest rates and fees

Interest rates and fees vary widely from card to card. Make sure you compare these carefully before you choose a card so you don’t get stuck with a high-interest rate or an annual fee that’s too high.

Some business credit cards come with annual fees. If you’re choosing between two cards and one has an annual fee and the other doesn’t, compare the benefits of each card to see if the annual fee is worth it. Some banks may charge a 0 percent APR at the beginning. This is a lucrative offer especially if your business faces issues with cash flows, and consequently carries a balance from month to month.

However, if some banks are luring you in with attractive chargebacks, they might be charging you a higher fee in foreign transaction fees and ATM fees, etc. 

Typically, cards with annual fees offer better rewards programs or lower interest rates. The interest rate on business credit cards is often higher than personal credit cards. Always look for a credit card with a low-interest rate. Don’t end up paying more in interest than you earn in rewards. A good rule of thumb is to have a reasonable balance between interest rates and rewards.

Check your credit score

Before you apply for a business credit card, check your personal and business credit scores. This will give you an idea of which cards you’re likely to be approved for and what interest rates you may qualify for.

Credit score is one of the factors that banks use to decide whether to approve your application and what interest rate to offer you.

Most financial experts recommend having a credit score of 740 or higher before applying for a credit card. If your credit score is below 740, you will be able to get a business credit card, but the terms might not be very favorable.

Check your credit score

If you’re not confident about your credit score, ask around. Get recommendations from other businesses in your niche. Talk to business owners in your industry and see what cards they use and why. This can be a great way to get first-hand insights into which cards offer the best benefits for businesses like yours.

Read the fine print

Before you apply for any credit card, make sure you read all of the fine print carefully. This includes things like the interest rate, grace period, balance transfer fee, and more. You don’t want to be surprised by any hidden fees later on down the road. 

For instance, your business might purchase something from an online store on a credit card installment plan. Suppose, after you placed the order, it got canceled by the vendor. By that time the bank already knows that you’ve subscribed for the installment plan and their system has taken a record of the amount (which will be generated on your next monthly bill.)

You, as a customer, are surprised to see the charges for a product that you never received. Then, after reading the terms and conditions carefully, you realize that you had to call the bank and cancel the installment plan – something you agreed to when opting to buy that product. Therefore, you were legally bound to pay for the product, even if you never received it.

This is just one example of how the nitty-gritty of the fine print can cost you. Take your time and read through the terms and conditions before applying for any credit card.

Choose a reliable bank

There are many different banks that offer credit cards. When you’re choosing a bank, it’s important to consider things like customer service and their reputation.

Go for a bank that gives a credit card with fraud protection.

This way, if your card is ever lost or stolen, you can report it and get a new one without having to worry about fraudulent charges. Regardless of whether your credit card offers fraud protection or not, you should know the tips to avoid business credit card fraud.

It pays off to select a bank that you’ve been doing business with for a long time. Such a bank will sincerely help you understand the terms of the credit card agreement and how it affects your business.

Your relationship with the banker is important for situations when you can’t make a payment on time. The banker might be more likely to work with you if you’ve been a good customer in the past and might also give you valuable financial advice.

Wrapping up the tips to choose the right credit card

Choosing the right credit card for your business is overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to look for. Make sure you compare different offers before you decide which card is right for your business.

Take time in selecting a credit card – one that will benefit your business in the long run.

Keep these tips in mind when choosing a credit card for your business:

Select a reliable bank. Remember to choose a credit card that is beneficial for the business in the long run. Consider features like rewards programs, interest rates, fees, and credit limits when you’re comparing cards. Try to maintain an excellent credit score. Sometimes, the rewards may not be worth the annual fee you have to pay for the card. Just be sure to read the fine print before you apply, so that you’re aware of any hidden fees beforehand.

Good luck in finding the perfect fit for your business.

The post 6 Tips To Choose the Right Credit Card for Your Business appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Third-Party Motor Insurance Premium to Cost More in India

Every year, the IRDAI revises the rate structure of third-party car insurance plans in March, considering inflation and other necessary factors. After two years, the insurance regulatory board has determined to increase the price of premiums for different categories of vehicles in 2022. The transport ministry of India has confirmed that changes in the premium price are to be applicable from June 2022.

Third-Party Motor Insurance Premium to Cost More in India

Change in the Price of Insurance Plans

Following are changes in the rate-structure of third-party motor insurance premiums, listed according to the vehicles’ engine capacity:

1. Revised Third-Party Car Insurance Premiums

Here you can find the change in this premium for private cars:

Private cars with an engine capacity up to 1000 cc: You need to pay Rs. 2,094. Earlier, you had to pay Rs. 2,072. Private cars with an engine capacity between 1000 cc and 1500 cc: The premium is to be increased from Rs.3,221 to Rs. 3,416. Private cars with an engine capacity above 1500 cc: The cost of a third-party car insurance policy is to be increased from Rs. 7,890 to Rs. 7,897. 2. Revised Third-Party Two-wheeler Insurance Premiums

Following are the changes in the premium price of bikes:

Bikes with an engine capacity under 75 cc: The increase in the premium price will be from Rs. 482 to Rs. 538. Bikes with an engine capacity between 75 cc and 150 cc: There has been no increase in the cost of third-party insurance plans in this category. You need to pay Rs. 714. Bikes with an engine capacity between 150 cc and 350 cc: The premium will increase from Rs. 1,193 to Rs. 1,366. Bikes with an engine capacity above 350 cc: The price is to inflate from Rs. 2,323 to Rs. 2,804. 3. Electric Vehicle Insurance Premiums

IRDAI has also determined the costs of third-party insurance policies for electrical vehicles (EVs) according to power outputs. These are as follows:

Cars with an engine output of below 30 KW: You have to pay a premium of Rs. 1,780. Cars with an engine output of between 30 KW and 65 KW: The premium in this category will be Rs. 2,904. Cars with an engine output over 65 KW: The premium will be Rs. 6,712. Bikes with an engine output below 3 KW: The premium will be Rs. 457. Bikes with an engine output between 3 KW and 7 KW: The premium will cost Rs. 607. Bikes with an engine output between 7 KW and 16 KW: The cost of the premium will be Rs. 1,161. Bikes with an engine output over 16 KW: The price of this premium will be Rs. 2,383.

Whatever the price of this third-party car insurance policy may be, you must ensure that your vehicles are covered under it. According to the Motor Vehicle Act of India, 1988, driving your vehicle with an active third-party insurance policy is mandatory. Else, you may encounter severe penalties and litigation hassles.

Inclusions of a Third-Party Insurance Policy

This motor insurance policy lets you cover the following aspects:

● Damage to Third-Party Property

If accidents cause damages to third-party property, the insurer will give compensation for the loss up to the sum insured.

● Third-Party Injuries

If the accident leads to bodily injuries to a third person, the policy lets your cover the medical expenses. This way, you do not have to bear the financial loss after on-road mishaps.

Exclusions of a Third-Party Insurance Policy

You cannot get policy benefits under the following conditions:

Any damage caused to the third-party properties/people when you are under the influence of any kind of intoxicants, including drugs, alcohol, etc. You cannot get policy benefits if you ride/drive without a valid driving license. Insurers will exclude you from getting the policy benefits if you break any traffic rules. Injury or damage to you or your own vehicle will not be covered under a third-party insurance policy. How to Buy a Third-Party Insurance Plan

Here is a step-wise guide for buying this motor vehicle insurance plan:

Step 1: Visit the official website of the online marketplace of motor insurance plans

Step 2: Select an insurance plan after checking various factors, including the coverage and premium amount

Step 3: Get the application form

Step 4: Fill in this form with necessary details and attach the required documents

Step 5: Pay the policy price

After these steps, your insurer will send you the policy document in your email ID.

In conclusion, IRDAI has determined to increase third-party insurance premiums after 2 years. Still, as per the Motor Vehicle Act, you must ensure that you have at least a third-party insurance plan. It helps you avoid any financial liabilities if the accident with your vehicle leads to damages or injuries of third-party property or people.

The post Third-Party Motor Insurance Premium to Cost More in India appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
The 9 Best SaaS Tools for Professionals in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality sector is composed of several fields within the service industry. Restaurants, bars, casinos, food trucks, resorts, hotels, cruises, amusement parks, tourism, and travel all form a part of the hospitality industry. 

The 9 Best SaaS Tools for Professionals in the Hospitality Industry

This industry is not just important for businesses or employees. It is also vital for economies, and the global hospitality market size is expected to grow to $4548.42 billion in 2022. As of December 2021, this multi-billion dollar industry supported and employed 15.11 million people in the US alone.

Although a major player in the service sector, the hospitality industry heavily relies on customer satisfaction and word of mouth. 

But in the age of the internet, how can businesses in the hospitality industry ensure that they provide their customers with an enjoyable experience while standing out from the competition?

By utilizing SaaS tools.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best SaaS Tools for Professionals in the Hospitality Industry

With around 84.41 thousand businesses active in the hospitality space, the competition is fierce. Devotion and dedication are paramount to the survival of a business in this sector, but is that enough for a business to thrive and stay relevant?

The answer is negative. 

Businesses in the hospitality industry need to adopt new technologies, take advantage of business automation, and utilize tools to make strenuous activities less challenging for their employees, manage accounts, cut unnecessary costs, automate repetitive manual tasks, and effectively communicate with customers.

This is where digital innovations such as software as a service (SaaS) tools come into the picture. The effective utilization of SaaS tools will help you save both time and money across the board. 

A cloud-based PMS (Property Management Software) empowers several functional areas of hospitality business to enhance the customer experience. 

This ultimate list of the best SaaS tools will help professionals find the right tools based on their needs. 

9 best SaaS tools for hospitality industry professionals

The potential for SaaS tools to simplify the lives of professionals in the hospitality industry is enormous. Let’s take a look at the best of them.

Agendrix

Agendrix’s hotel scheduling software is a modern HR toolkit for hospitality professionals to automate scheduling, timesheets, attendance records, and stay connected. 

Agendrix will help you create everyone’s work schedules since you’ll have access to centralized data, which takes into account constraints too. 

This SaaS tool lets you transform your existing device into a punch clock so that you can keep track of everyone’s attendance and breaks. This will enable you to keep an eye on labor costs and overtime. 

Agendrix utilizes this data to fill out timesheets automatically and highlights discrepancies, if any.

With Agendrix’s instant messaging option, you can easily deal with last-minute restraints and update your staff instantaneously, keeping everyone in the loop. This will assist in keeping everyone connected and help you build better connections with your staff. 

Agendrix is simple to set up, available on App Store and Google Play, supports email notifications, and will free your precious time so that you can take better care of your customers and staff.

Apaleo

Apaleo is an open hospitality platform to help you handle and run any property–hotel or apartment–efficiently. It’s an API-first hospitality platform, meaning that Apaleo creates the API, or the connectivity layer first, and then the PMS is modeled on top of it. 

Apaleo’s API-first approach makes all the data in the business’s old PMS easily accessible and available. With Apaleo, data can be migrated quickly and seamlessly, mundane tasks can be automated to accelerate business operations and cut down costs, and you can roll out your own software too.

This SaaS tool empowers your employees to focus on high-impact tasks and work on serving their guests to give them a remarkable and memorable experience. The best part is that there are no set up costs, no hidden charges, and it simplifies all your workflows.

Canary Technologies

Canary Technologies provides gush-worthy technological solutions for lodging properties such as resorts and hotels. This SaaS tool has been designed by industry veterans to help you generate more revenue, provide your guests with a delightful experience, and enhance the efficiency and productivity of your staff. 

With Canary Technologies, you can provide your guests with an impeccable suite of solutions to save their time and amplify their experience. For instance, your guests’ can check-in online, upload their ID, and fill out registration forms from a single unique link. 

This tool is also built to dynamically upsell your services and amenities, send notifications to your guests, offer digital tipping for your staff, and facilitate contactless checkouts.

Preno

Preno is a simple cloud-based PMS and is suitable for handling small teams. This software will automate tedious administrative tasks, saving you both time and effort. 

Preno can be used to simplify guest reservations and billings, and integrated with your existing or other hospitality systems. This SaaS tool is built to give you secure access to your operating systems from anywhere. 

It also aims to offer your guests an enjoyable experience by streamlining the reservation and check-in process.

EasyPMS

EasyPMS is a cloud and web-based hotel management software. This SaaS tool is appropriate for any type and size of property, and consists of a booking engine, rate manager, channel manager, SPA manager, and POS. 

EasyPMS runs on the latest technology and is quick, efficient, reliable, and works on any device or browser. It doesn’t need any servers, licenses, maintenance, or upgradation, making it an affordable solution for professionals in the hospitality industry.

Oracle Hospitality

Oracle Hospitality offers technology solutions to various sectors, including hotels and resorts, casino and gaming, hotel food and beverage, and cruise. 

Oracle Hospitality has over 40 years of experience in providing both hardware and software services to hospitality industry professionals. 

With this SaaS tool, you can build pleasant relationships between your guest and staff, offer customized marketing to attract new guests and keep your old guest rooster satisfied, personalize services as per your guest’s needs in real-time, capitalize on your human capital, i.e., your staff, and upsell your services and amenities to your guests based on their preference.

Oracle Hospitality is fit to handle your back-end tasks too. You can provide your guests with numerous options to view and pay their bills, improve your business’s financial planning, boost sales, and arm your IT employees with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

StayNTouch

StayNTouch is a cloud-based PMS that empowers your guests to take charge of their experience, your staff to provide extraordinary service, and you to manage and operate your hotel the way you want. 

Its intuitive UI will help increase productivity, decrease unnecessary costs, enhance your guest’s experience, and drive revenue. 

This SaaS tool comes with a horde of features, interfaces, and virtual check-in solutions to provide you, your guests, and staff with a secure, fast, and delightful experience.

With StayNTouch, you can run your hotel on or off the property, send automated upsell offers to your guests, and build long-lasting relationships with your staff and guests alike.

ChargeAutomation

ChargeAutomation is an online check-in, payment automation, security deposit collection, and upsell SaaS tool for the hospitality industry. 

Through ChargeAutomation, you can give your guests a portal where they can obtain check-in instructions, receipts, access codes, manuals, and customer support.

This SaaS tool comes with 120 payment gateways to give you and your guests a wide range of payment getaways to choose from. It can also integrate with any PMS, Channel Management System, and Web Booking Engines.

GuestRevu

Your business could provide the best-in-class customer experience but still not be on the proverbial map if it doesn’t have excellent reviews online. 

With the majority of consumers checking online reviews before making a reservation and only a minor percentage of customers willing to leave feedback unprompted, what do you do?

You take help from SaaS tools like GuestRevu to aid you in gathering feedback from your customers and managing your reputation online. 

You can understand your guest’s expectations and experiences better through GuestRevu’s surveys. You can view all your reviews online, collected from popular review sites, in a centralized dashboard to be on top of your online reputation management. 

GuestRevu’s analytics and reporting will let you make operational decisions to assist you in giving your customers a better experience, managing your online reviews, and boosting your revenue. It also lets you monitor your competitor’s online reputation and is free forever. 

SaaS tools are a hospitality industry professional’s best friend

Hospitality leaders and professionals need to be extremely agile and adapt to the changing customer preferences and evolving demand. 

The integration of SaaS tools will not only give you a leg over your competitors but also pivot as per consumer sentiments.

SaaS tools are necessary to improve your operations with technology, make data-informed decisions, automate tedious tasks, empower small businesses, reduce churn, and gift your guests with an experience to remember you by.

The post The 9 Best SaaS Tools for Professionals in the Hospitality Industry appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Best and Affordable Team Building Activities in Singapore

Today, many companies use team-building activities to bring together personnel from multiple departments and promote harmony, stronger friendships, and teamwork. However, finding low-cost team-building activities in Singapore is usually challenging. The cost and benefit of team-building activities are employers’ primary considerations.

Regarding affordability, here is a list of activities that cost $35 or less.

Best and Affordable Team Building Activities in Singapore

Top 8 Affordable Team Building Activities

The 8 most affordable team building activities in Singapore according to Jambar Team Building are given below for your consideration while planning your next team-building training.

Virtual Escape Room

Here is an award-winning escape room experience as the first reasonably priced team-building activity. It is  the first and only virtual escape room in Singapore, with prices starting at $20 per person. The virtual escape room game may support huge groups of hundreds of players up to tiny groups of 2 players.

Virtual Food Quest

Test your culinary knowledge with Singapore’s unique Virtual Food Quest Experience for just $20 per person. An enormous gastronomic adventure awaits everyone in the Virtual Food Quest!

Virtual Time Travel

By traveling into the past and future virtually, you can look for your missing uncle. You can participate in an exciting plot as you and your crew travel through time and space to solve issues in numerous eras and time zones. Hurry to complete your task because the clock is running out! For only $20 per person, you may experience virtual time travel!

Virtual Nightfall

Virtual Nightfall, based on the classic game Werewolf/Murderer, is an excellent opportunity to test you and your team. The ability to communicate, interpret body language, and persuade are just a few required abilities to play this game. Each player will be given a character, a killer, a detective, a civilian, or a doctor. Who will win in the war between good and evil?

Saber Tag

Saber Tag is an entertaining and action-packed game that features neon battle sabers and unique scoring vests and has a starting price of $15 per person. To complete various game objectives, participants get to use the combat sabers and fight with opposing team members.

Bubble Bump

One of Singapore’s most thrilling corporate team-building activities is Bubble Bump, which costs $15 per person. Participants will play various tasks in team-building games like Bubble Soccer, Bubble Bump Invasion, Bubble Bump Zombie, and others while sporting enormous inflatable bubble bump suits.

Pool ball

The cost of playing pool on a 7-meter-long pool table with pool balls the size of soccer balls starts at just $15 per person, making it one of Singapore’s hottest and most exciting corporate team-building activities. Participants can play various games, such as Pool ball Classic and Poolball Sabotage, on the most significant pool table in the world.

Amazing Hybrid Race

The first hybrid team-building game in Singapore was created by a group of passionate young game designers from the Fun Empire, and it is called The Amazing Hybrid Race!

Players can explore Chinatown’s well-known Singapore sights while completing physical challenges and taking online quizzes to learn more about Singapore’s history and varied cuisines.

Conclusion

You and your colleagues may have fun without spending a fortune. The list of reasonably priced team-building activities is above the world’s most extraordinary and unique team-building games.

The post Best and Affordable Team Building Activities in Singapore appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How to Choose the Right Gifts for Your Best Clients

Giving your top B2B clients a special gift to thank them for their support is a nice touch, but you will have to steer clear of anything that looks like a bribe. Gifts like expensive jewelry or paid holidays can come across as being somewhat shady, so the good news is that appreciation gifts shouldn’t be overly expensive. Follow corporate gift etiquette tips to the last detail. Once you’re satisfied that presenting your contact with a small gift won’t provoke jealousy or get them into trouble, there are still a lot of pitfalls to avoid. Use these dos and don’ts to be on the safe side.

How to Choose the Right Gifts for Your Best Clients

Avoid Controversy

Think carefully about the type of gifts that will be acceptable to anyone regardless of their personal values, belief systems, and habits. Back in the day, for example, a bottle of wine may have been seen as a perfectly acceptable corporate gift, but even then it may have ended up in the hands of a teetotaller who had no use for it. Apply the same sensitivity to people’s religious sensibilities. For example, not everyone celebrates Christmas, so a New Year’s gift could be a safer option.

Useful and Branded: Your Gift as a Reminder of What You Do

While your gift is meant as a way of saying thanks, there’s nothing wrong with using it as a type of reminder advertising. Good, old-fashioned calendars are still a popular choice. Simple desk calendars, attractively illustrated wall calendars, and the oh-so-handy desk blotter calendar are perennial favorites that won’t raise any eyebrows.

Pens are also popular, but they do have potential drawbacks. There’s no office in the world where pens don’t “disappear,” and if your branded pen is of poor quality, it may just cause more frustration than pleasure, reflecting badly on your brand even if pens aren’t among its products. If you’re keen on giving stationary, be sure to check its quality – or go for something foolproof like branded post-it notes.

Mugs, T-Shirts, and More

By now you’re getting the gist of it. In most circumstances, corporate gifts are relatively cheap, branded items that anybody will like regardless of their personal tastes. Apart from office stationary, you can get a bit more out of the box with other branded items. T-shirts are a popular choice, but no matter how nice the tee, it might not get worn often in a professional setting. A coffee mug, on the other hand, is always good to have and could be used several times a day. Meeting folders holding paper and pen with extra pockets for documents are a long-term winner that should see a lot of use.

Bigger Gifts

If your client’s company is celebrating a milestone, you can consider offering a rather larger gift, but while you might want to offer something pricier than a coffee mug, don’t go overboard. Stick to something tasteful and relatively low cost that can be used around the office and make it clear that the gift is to mark a very special occasion.

Package, Sign, and Deliver

Do feel free to add a festive touch to your packaging. Pretty paper and bows always help with presentation. Include a card naming the recipient, and thanking them for supporting your company. Sign it by hand and, if possible, deliver it by hand. You just successfully navigated the delicate question of corporate gifting with style. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself!

The post How to Choose the Right Gifts for Your Best Clients appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
7 Business Tips for Dental Practices That Delivers Anytime

If you own a dental practice or are planning to do so; you must know that dental practices go beyond providing services to the patients. Simply possessing the necessary skills as a dental professional is never enough if you want to be successful in practice. You need to develop yourself to be business-savvy and have management proficiency and marketing strategies in mind if you wish to stay afloat in this highly competitive market.

You can easily pull off treatment challenges as you have been trained in the field of dentistry rigorously. However; the business aspect of dental practices might turn out to be intimidating and challenging since it is an area you are not really acquainted with.

Business Tips for Dental Practices

Here are 7 business tips for dental practices that you can incorporate into your dental practice:

1. Keep a thorough track of everything 

Keeping timely track of everything that revolves around your business including cash flow, inventory, staff requirements, and so on gives access to a great set of information. This information can be analyzed to gain insight into your shortcomings and work on fulfilling them.

You must also stay on top of your finances to anticipate your growth. General office requirements, cleaning solutions, and the latest technology are some of the common expenses you will have to incur. Monitor your income expenditure and cut down on unnecessary costs if you want to run a profitable business.

2. Know your unique selling proposition. 

What differentiates your practice from the 191,497 dental offices in the United States? Unless you find the answer to this question, you just cannot be successful. With so many alternatives available; you need something unique to drive patients to you. This is your unique selling proposition. You can determine your unique selling proposition by studying the demographic you wish to target. Tailor your business in accordance with their requirements and expectations. If the patient demands are met, they will be loyal to you and this will also attract new patients.

3. Provide a welcoming environment for your patients 

Dental treatments are anxiety-inducing. Quite the population is afraid of the thought that their mouth will be operated on. If your workspace is not well-designed and is cold and cheerless, this will add significantly to the patient’s anxiety and cause problems with the treatment, and might also repel the patient from your services. Therefore; make attempts to provide your patients with a welcoming environment. Make sure they are satisfied right from when they set foot into your office till they leave. You can install comfortable seating, add elements of nature, play relaxing music, keep the temperature cool, have good and bright lighting, etc. Additionally, this; behavior of you and your staff towards the patients also plays a great role.

4. Invest in your team 

Invest time and money in your team. Your team is what represents your services. They are the first point of interaction with the patients and therefore, can make or break patient inflow. For your staff to function effectively and be productive, they need to be well-trained and made aware of their responsibilities.

Additionally, they need to be paid on time and kept satisfied as this gets reflected in their work. Get the team aware of your values, traditions, interactions, and attitudes. Foster teamwork and reward their satisfactory work. Conduct weekly meetings wherein you can collectively discuss issues and come up with solutions. In short, keep your team involved and provide them with professional development opportunities.

5. Provide flexibility in payments 

Many patients don’t avail of dental services due to their costs. Sometimes patients skip their appointments due to previous cancellations and overdue fees. These penalties often stop people from coming in even though they might be inclined to. This is where you need to show flexibility by either reducing or eliminating cancellations and no-shows. These might come in the way of your time management but will help you retain patients which will be beneficial in the long run.

Alternatively; you can introduce a dentist membership plans and encourage people into getting those. This will allow your patients to pay in advance for monthly or annual dental services. They can get access to preventive exams, timely clean-ups, and discounts on other treatments. This will eliminate the involvement of insurance agencies and benefit you as well.

Dental Digital Marketing: Benefits of Going Digital For Your Dental Practice

6. Improve your technology and software

If you already haven’t upgraded your technology and software, it’s high time you do it. Making use of innovative and new tools can simplify and make your tasks more efficient. New and advanced tech will also attract patients. With the help of software solutions, you can expand your office, monitor competition and maintain accurate records as well.

7. Make use of digital marketing  

The role that digital marketing can play in the smooth running of your business can’t be emphasized enough. Utilize techniques like social media marketing, SEO, responsive website and so on and popularize your business to reach a vast audience, which can then be leveraged.

With these tips at hand and consistent effort, you can run your dental business phenomenally and flourish!

The post 7 Business Tips for Dental Practices That Delivers Anytime appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
4 Suggestions for Establishing a Customer Success Organization

Building a customer success organization (CSO) is essential for any company that wants to thrive in the digital age. With many media available to customers, it’s hard to keep up. That’s where the CSO comes in.

They’re responsible for helping customers resolve issues, understanding their needs, and providing support. Here we’ll share some suggestions for how to get started with a CSO.

Suggestions for Establishing a Customer Success Organization

What is a Customer Success Organization?

A customer success organization (CSO) is an organization that has a specialized team that focuses on the customer’s success. This team helps ensure that customers have a positive experience with their products or services. Whether through online support, phone support, social media engagement, or any other avenue.

Companies should confirm that consumers have a positive experience from start to finish. CSOs help improve brand loyalty and encourage repeat business.

Additionally, you should track valuable insights into how customers use company offerings. So, CSOs can make necessary changes or enhancements to improve performance. A well-trained CSO team can be essential in driving increased revenue for companies.

What is a Contact Center?

A contact center is a kind of business section that provides customer service. They are responsible for handling all incoming customer inquiries and complaints. They identify and resolve issues or problems as quickly as possible.

Generally, they use a team of trained specialists to provide quality customer service. Some companies use effective contact center software solutions to organize everything.

Cloud contact center software (CCS) is a specialized customer service software. It allows your company to manage its customer interactions from a centralized location. It can save time and money. So you no longer need to invest in call handling, chat support, or email marketing.

Furthermore, cloud contact center software provides real-time data analysis. So, it’ll help you identify how best to serve your customers and optimize your operation. Automating repetitive tasks and tracking customer behavior across channels is essential. That’s where CCS can help improve the quality of your customer experience.

Besides, it offers features such as automatic fault detection and notification tools. It’s beneficial for proactive problem resolution. Cloud contact center software is an efficient way to provide excellent customer service. It reduces costs associated with traditional contact center setups.

4 Tips for Establishing a Customer Success Organization

4 Tips for Establishing a Customer Success Organization

Customer success plays a vital role in any business and deserves special attention. Read on to find out how to create a customer success organization that works for your business.

Identify Your Customer’s Ultimate Goal

The first step in establishing a customer success organization is to identify the customer’s ultimate goal. It will help you determine what actions you need to take to help them reach that goal.

Once you know the customer’s goal, you can start by identifying the steps leading up to it. For example, if the customer’s goal is to buy a product, you need to understand their needs and want to provide them with the best possible service.

You also need to track their progress throughout the buying process to provide them with updates and support as required.

Finally, keeping customers happy is essential by providing them value beyond just buying. It could involve offering loyalty rewards or exclusive deals only available to customers who reach their goals. Doing this will keep your customers happy and encourage them to come back and buy from you in the future.

Create a Success Strategy

The customer success organization (CSO) is crucial to any company’s customer experience strategy. Outlining a CSO strategy ensures that customers have a positive and successful experience.

Creating a CSO starts with understanding your customer journey and mapping it out in detail. It will help you identify where your business can make an impact. It’ll also give you a more reasonable version of your customers’ challenges along the way. You should also refer to your customer journey map to see where opportunities for improvement or enhancement exist.

Creating a CSO involves setting up processes and procedures. It’ll ensure that customers are:

Greeted promptly. Guided through their buying process. Provided with relevant information, and Satisfied with the result.

It would be enough to put measures to track customer feedback and act on it immediately. It’s beneficial to continue improving your product or service.

All this needs devotion and hard work from everyone involved. It’s from senior management to the frontline workers who interact with customers daily. But if outlined and done correctly, it can lead to long-term success for your business.

Assemble a Team

A customer success team is an essential part of any successful business. It’s a dedicated team of dedicated employees. They ensure customers have a positive experience with your product or service.

The first step in establishing a customer success team is appointing the right people. You’ll need someone who has experience managing and working with customers. He should understand the ins and outs of your product or service. Also, you’ll need someone capable of providing excellent customer support when needed.

Once you have your special team in place, it’s essential to train them properly. It includes teaching them how to handle customer complaints discreetly and professionally. It can also help them understand the importance of keeping customers happy.

Developing systemwide procedures for handling customer feedback and problems is also essential. This way, everyone knows what to do when something goes wrong.

This team can play several important roles, including:

Providing support during the early stages of product adoption Handling customer complaints and negative feedback Acting as a resource for users on how to use the product or service correctly Coordinating with other departments within your company. It ensures that customers are getting the best possible experience Monitors user engagement data and makes changes to your product or service as necessary to keep users engaged

Overall, building a customer success team is an essential part of any successful business. Investing in these dedicated employees shows customers that you take their success seriously. It’ll also show that you’re committed to helping them achieve their goals.

Get Required Tools

You’ll need to get the right tools in order before you can start implementing your CSO strategy. It includes a CRM system, a contact center, automated chatbots, and email marketing channels. Also, you’ll need to set up processes and metrics to track the performance of your customer care efforts.

There are some matters you’ll need to set up a customer success organization (CSO):

A centralized system for tracking customer data and analytics A reporting mechanism to track progress and identify areas of improvement A system for collecting data on customer interactions and trends. It can be done through surveys, interviews, or data entry into a database. Instruments for handling customer interactions, such as phone scripts and automated reply systems. A system for handling complaints and addressing them quickly. It can include email responses and live chat functionality. It can even be the notifications sent to customers’ devices. A system for tracking your customers’ progress and measuring your marketing campaign’s effectiveness. It can be done through analytics software or by manually following customer feedback forms.

Finally, it’s essential to have systems in place for measuring performance. It helps you track whether your CSO is making any impact on the success of your company. You should put in place these essential tools. So, you can ensure that your customer success organization is effective and efficient.

Summary

Customer success is not just about improving sales. It also ensures that the customer experience is satisfying and memorable. You can provide your organization’s success by using the steps highlighted above.

The post 4 Suggestions for Establishing a Customer Success Organization appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- TTE Contributor
Tips for Defining Your Brand Without a Large Budget

When it comes to business, many people often confuse branding and marketing mixed up, so for those who don’t already know, branding is what defines you as a business, whereas marketing is simply telling people about it. There are so many parts of branding which makes it a little confusing for businesses just starting out. Often, people believe branding costs a fortune, but this isn’t entirely true, you can still create a great brand on a budget, you just need to know how. It can take some time to get it right, but once you do, you will see that your business is bringing much more leads.

Tips for Defining Your Brand Without a Large Budget

Building your brand is an essential part of your start-up business and the development for growth. Branding is the foundation of your brand voice, values, identity, and awareness of your customers. Due to the number of tools and resources readily available, building a brand is now not that expensive and doesn’t take all of your time to get started.  In this article, we will go through some of the steps you can take to define your brand without a large budget.

Know Your Mission

If you don’t what you are trying to achieve, then how are your potential customers going to resonate with your core values and goals? You need to set out what you want to accomplish with this brand and be as clear and as accurate as possible. If you and your team don’t know what you are offering, it is going to make it extremely difficult to tell your customers.

For beginners, this can be difficult, so we can break this down further for you by letting you know the core factors that you need to focus on. Here are some things you should consider:

How are you creating value for your customers? What types of needs and wants are you aiming to appeal to? What does your brand represent or stand for? What will encourage people to make a purchase? How do you stand out from your competitors?

These are all fundamental questions and should not be rushed. Think hard about these and go back and forth with your ideas to see if everything ties in well with each other. When they do, you will have a good idea of your brand identity.

Define Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is another essential piece of information that you are going to need before doing any real business. You are going to need to define your audience for a number of reasons, one is to help your brand resonate with them as well as for using the right language and tone for your audience when marketing. One of the best methods to define your audience is by creating buyer personas. These are semi-fictitious representatives of your ideal customer and their values and characteristics.

Before creating any visual content, you need to be able to define your audience as you need to understand how you want to be perceived by your customers and who they are. These personas help you to understand the challenges that these groups may face and how your business can solve their issues. Here are some elements to consider: Age, gender, education, tools they use on a daily basis, needs, goals, family, and much more. When you understand these factors will show you how to convey your message, and how to market your brand and will help to understand what motivates them into buying or using your service.

Tips for Defining Your Brand Without a Large Budget

Spy On Your Competition

Gaining a competitive advantage is key to business growth and success. The only way you are going to be able to obtain that advantage is by spying and creeping on your competitors to see what they are doing, what they are doing differently, what niches they are in, how they position themselves, and much more. This is an essential part of creating a strong brand strategy that will help you to make more informed decisions from the mistakes that your competitors have made. Competitor analysis doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, as there are many free tools out there that can help you with your research such as Moz, Google trends, Pingdom, and much more.

Update and Optimise Your Competition

If there is one thing that will kill a brand it is a low-quality website that offers a poor user experience. Bad user experience, poorly written content, out-of-date information, unattractive designs, and hard-to-use websites are all factors that are going to leave potential customers going elsewhere for what they need. Your website serves as your online business card, your shop front, and a platform for you to connect with your users. Ensuring it is optimised for search engines and is easy to use is not hard, and you can do a lot of it yourself.

Rethink Your Logo

Creating a logo that you are happy with is essential to your business, as this will be with you for many years so design it right the first time. It is one of the main factors that people are going to see that is associated with you with your brand recognition. We’re not saying that you can never change your logo, but don’t rush into it and put any old logo on your site. Instead, think about how it will look against your competitor’s logos and how it will portray you.

When designing a logo, print it out and place it somewhere that you will see it a lot for a week. If there is anything that annoys you about the design, it’s back to the drawing board. If it is a logo that doesn’t portray your personality or values, then it’s also back to the drawing board. If you are struggling with this design, it is best to speak to a design agency for some of the best talents in the UK. If there was one thing that you should spend money on is your Logo.

Keep at The Forefront of Innovation In Your Industry

You never want to be left behind when it comes to innovation or business trends, so it pays to always be one step ahead of the game and industry. This means that you need to be constantly evolving with your brand and keep innovating new methods, products, services, and everything else that is going to keep you ahead of your competitors.

The world is constantly evolving and new methods and techniques are discovered regularly, this is exactly what you need to be doing, finding new methods of doing your business, new platforms, and much more. If you are struggling with innovation, there are many resources out there that can help you tune your thoughts for innovation.

Be Consistent

If you are wanting to create a brand and grow it, then one thing you need to ensure is that you are consistent across all platforms and channels. Consistency is the fundamental factor that is going to build relationships with your audience. Having consistent branding provides trust and a layer of transparency to your business as people understand what they should expect from the brand which is what they need when deciding what brand to use. This doesn’t happen overnight though, it takes time and hard graft.

Due to this not happening straight away, many feel disheartened because they aren’t seeing instant success. This is because you first need to establish the brand and keep its voice and tone consistent across all channels so that people are familiar with you and your work. Whilst you are waiting for the business to pick up, ensure that you use this opportunity to measure brand awareness through various methods such as paid social, organic social posts, and keeping your site well optimised.

Start A Brand Blog

If you are struggling to get people to your site through organic methods, then having a blog on your website is a fantastic method of gaining more traffic. This isn’t to say that you should write about anything, but create blog posts that are relevant to your industry and relevant to your target audience and personas. This will in turn help to get picked up for smaller key terms that people are searching for. For this to work as part of your inbound marketing, you need to ensure that the articles are well-optimised, have headers, it should be easy to read, and that none of the information should be copied from other sites. Use the information to create your own relevant blog.

Final Thoughts

Having a limited budget can sometimes feel overwhelming and can cause a lot of stress, but the truth is you don’t need a huge budget, you just need some simple steps to guide you through the process. Expensive tools are not the way to go, the best method is putting in your own hard graft, learning what’s working and what isn’t, and having some patients, because it will come, you just need to have some trust in your own abilities.

The post Tips for Defining Your Brand Without a Large Budget appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
eCommerce Shipping Best Practices

The eCommerce business is a flourishing industry and has several opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, having the perfect product to attract customers is not enough. You must also consider the possibility of providing high-quality and trustworthy eCommerce shipping services to meet customer expectations and repeat business.

Whether you’re a new small business or an established eCommerce brand, carefully planning your shipping strategies will help your company prosper. Unexpected high shipping costs, the ability (or inability) to trace products, inventory, return shipping fees, orders, and other factors can significantly influence your customers’ experience.

eCommerce Shipping Best Practices

We’ll go through what customers have come to expect from delivery, as well as eCommerce shipping best practices that might help your online store.

Customers will buy from you if you offer free shipping options

The foundation of an eCommerce shipping strategy is ensuring that the right products are delivered to the correct location at the right time. It is an essential feature of any business, particularly an eCommerce store whose success depends on providing orders to clients as quickly and efficiently as possible.

When customers are shopping online on your eCommerce site, they expect an easy and quick delivery experience. According to statistics, shipping costs have a substantial influence on cart abandonment. Customers abandoned their carts in 41% of cases because shipping rates were more than expected and in 26% of cases because shipment took too long. 78% of customers are willing to buy more products on your website if you are offering free shipping.

Customers want free delivery but ensure you can afford it. One method for covering free shipping is to increase the price of your product. Setting a minimum purchase value to qualify for free shipping is another option. Whatever you choose, ensure your free shipping policy benefits you and your consumers.

Provide flat rate shipping costs

Another efficient shipping strategy for your online business is flat-rate shipping. Unlike regular shipping, flat-rate shipping implies that shipping costs are not directly related to specific product size or weight. This means you may provide flat-rate delivery depending on particular restrictions or requirements you establish, such as how far a shipment must go, the maximum size or weight of the package, or order totals.

This shipping approach provides your consumers with a simple delivery choice — but, as with free shipping, it’s critical to evaluate the typical cost of delivering a package before adopting it. Understanding this can assist you in ensuring that you are not undercharging for flat-rate delivery.

Charging real-time carrier rates

Giving your consumers shipping options is essential in this shipping strategy. Customers will often pay the precise price carriers charge to transport their items and pick their delivery timetable when charging real-time carrier rates.

For example, if a client wants expedited shipping with your preferred carrier, they might choose this option and accept higher shipping costs. If another buyer isn’t concerned about the delivery time, like same-day delivery, they can select the most cost-effective option and pay the lowest price.

Order tracking

Consistency is essential when tracking clients’ orders and shipment statuses and ensuring customer satisfaction. Customers, once again, demand a mechanism to trace their purchases. Use proactive tracking as an extra marketing technique in addition to merely providing a superior client experience.

This goes beyond just indicating when the shipment is likely to arrive via a USPS or FedEx link. Shopify eCommerce businesses may utilize the company’s tracking add-on, Shop. Customers download the free Shop app, and the order appears on their smart device as soon as they purchase from an eCommerce business that uses Shop.

The app displays the customer’s purchase data, tracking number, carrier information, and a live map of where their shipment is, with comprehensive tracking information every step of the way.

Dropshipping. doing business the internet way

Use a reliable shipping company

The shipping carrier (or carriers) you select is critical to your eCommerce shipping solutions. When looking for carriers, remember the types of goods you’re delivering, where you want to ship to (e.g., locally or international shipping), the average weights and sizes of your shipments, and how much you’re selling your products.

When you begin studying which carrier to utilize, these variables will serve as your starting point and ensure you have a thriving shipping process.

Use shipping software

It s recommended to go beyond merely giving tracking information to clients to give the best customer experience. Automation solutions and eCommerce shipping apps may assist your eCommerce platform in tracking and organizing all aspects of shipment. These solutions can also give you the information and insights to enhance your shipping methods.

Customers can profit from automation technologies as well. Because these technologies provide detailed information on the client’s order, they are less inclined to contact your customer service team for assistance.

Utilize protective packaging for your products

The packaging you select impacts the rates you or your customers will pay to have items delivered by third-party carriers. Based on the size and weight of your items, carefully determine how much and what sort of packaging you will require.

Delicate things may require protective packaging, such as bubble wrap, stretch film, corner boards, etc., to ensure the items are secure and will arrive at their destination intact.

Have a return shipping strategy for your online store

Your return shipping plan is almost as important as your delivery strategy. The return procedure should be simple if a consumer has to return a product for whatever reason.

As a new eCommerce business owner,a flat-rate return shipping cost may be an excellent place to start. It has a lower impact on your bottom line than giving free return shipping since it divides the financial burden between you and your consumer.

Understanding your profit margins, what your rivals are doing, and what sort of customer service you want to provide all play a role in determining your return shipping policy.

Final thoughts

The eCommerce approach you adopt affects both the consumer experience and the bottom line of your organization.

Pay particular attention to your product pricing, profit margins, AOVs, average package dimensions and weight, and what shipping plans your closest rivals provide as you develop your approach. All these considerations will play a role in determining the optimum shipping plan for your company and which carrier to choose.

The post eCommerce Shipping Best Practices appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Lori Gillen
Why Business Automation is Important for New Businesses?

Do you think business automation is something that only big companies make use of to remove human tasks and keep robots? Well, that is incorrect. You would want to think again on this aspect. Business automation is used by not just big businesses but all entrepreneurs and start-ups. If you use any tool like Google Suite, Lio, Zapier, Zendesk, etc, then you are using automation in your business. 

Using automation in your business makes it all very efficient, organized, and error-free where manual, tedious, and repetitive tasks are not done. Automations make you more productive, save cost and improve customer satisfaction. 

Business Automation is Important for New Businesses

Automation does not just handle one task at a time but multiple. It can be used to handle all kinds of tasks whether it is related to marketing, sales, customer service, etc.

Some Benefits of Business Automation

There are several more benefits of automation and especially for a new business. Let us take a look at some of them.

1. Eliminates Human Error

Human errors are common and natural and there is nothing wrong with them but human errors in work can make the task go slow and affect the overall workflow. Having technology doing some tasks in the workplace eliminates the chance of any human errors and also gives improved and better results.

It even improves inaccuracy when it comes to data analytics. As long as the works are programmed well, automation can handle and do several tasks at the same time.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Today, many big companies have taken over many tasks that were earlier done manually by humans. Having robots to do tasks not just makes the work error-free but also saves up a lot of money. Buying one good automation technology means that you can save on big bucks by hiring multiple employees for doing the same job. Technology on the other hand will handle multiple tasks in no time and manage them in a more productive and efficient manner.

3. Remote Workforce is Possible

One of the big costs that any company bears is that of office space. Earlier when the technology wasn’t that advanced, each and every employee had to be present in the workspace but thanks to technology now small businesses can work remotely.

This means that they can save on a lot of costs and put it to better use. With automation in a remote workspace, you don’t even have to worry about who is doing what and if the work is being done timely as all is managed by technology.

4. Save Time and Energy

Automation is great! It does really complex tasks that might have taken days to finish in just a few minutes. It is more efficient and reliable. With today’s technology, we are able to finish tasks in no time and save a lot of effort in doing them manually or just keeping a constant track of them. 

With just a few clicks you are able to get a detailed report of all kinds of the previous months, a task that would require a lot of time, attention, and energy and would definitely face some human errors and challenges. You eliminate repetitive and manual tasks with the help of automation.

Also read:

Top 10 Businesses of The Future (2020-2030) Why Social Media Data Visualization is Important for Your Online Business 5 Ways Technology Is Affecting Small Businesses 5. Improves Employee Satisfaction

Since automation takes on a lot of responsibilities including the important and not-so-important tasks, you can hand over more important work to your employees which would also give them a sense of accomplishment and increase their feeling of importance in them.

In a small business, you would want to change your staff frequently and would want to keep them for as long as they want to, and for that employee satisfaction is important which can be easily done with the help of automation.

How to Become a Growth Marketing Strategist?

6. Improves Reliability

With automation, the internal tasks become predictable and very easy to keep a track of. It does all tasks without any errors and in no time while executing it. With pre-defined parameters, technology manages to do difficult tasks in an intelligent way.

7. Great Customer Service

Automation does not just make work life better for your employees but also for your customers. With it, you can deliver your services in a more prompt and better manner. It creates a positive brand image as all customer queries are not just answered but answered within a few minutes of receiving them. 

This also increases the confidence of your customer in your brand which makes it easier for them to share confidential information or details with you.

There are several other benefits of automation technology for a new business. If adopted, a business can grow 10x times faster and would be more successful. So do some more research and learn all about automation and the many types to have the business of your dreams. 

The post Why Business Automation is Important for New Businesses? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How Innovative Investments Benefit Educational Institutions

Educational institutions must make innovative investments. These investments are related to innovation, risk-taking, and trying new things. All facets of the educational system must incorporate innovation because it is essential to the educational process. It can help improve students’ living and learning environments and the financial viability of educational institutions.

How Innovative Investments Benefit Educational Institutions

Impact of Technology on Learning

There are numerous approaches to enhancing student learning. Some schools have accomplished better educational opportunities through innovative financing, as Jeffrey Previte, Former CEO of EBI Consulting did to give deserving students at prestigious institutions the best learning environment possible.

One of the ways can also be using interactive technology to enhance student interaction. Interactive programs let students participate directly in a lesson, stimulating them with their names and triggering extensive interest in school subjects. This results in higher retention and a stronger desire for students to pursue a subject in depth. However, despite technology’s various benefits, educational institutions must be aware that not all forms of interactive technology are equally effective for every student.

Educational institutions must consider all factors that impact student learning to achieve the best results. First, accessibility to technology is crucial. Lack of connectivity to the internet has a negative impact on student achievement. Second, educational institutions must invest in online education programs. These are increasingly popular as an accessible means of getting an education.

Technology can improve accessibility for students with disabilities. For instance, students with limited vision can have the opportunity to use computer-aided technologies to read lectures or view videos. This technology is also capable of converting slides and texts into electronic Braille. It also allows professors to customize teaching strategies and assignments for individual students.

Similarly, technology can also enable education organizations to partner with other organizations. With collaborations, educational institutions can invite professors from other institutions to teach their classes. For example, professors from another university can record a class from their home, or a hospital can invite students to experience the work environment in a hospital. It helps students to understand the working environment and gain valuable insights.

Impact of Technology on Financial Sustainability

With a lack of revenue and rising costs, the financial sustainability of educational institutions is in danger of failing. To survive, colleges and universities must improve their value proposition and reduce costs. They can do this by collaborating with other colleges and universities. However, collaboration should not be seen as a strategy to take advantage of weaker players.

With the help of digital transformation, institutions can expand their reach and reduce costs. For example, the internet makes classrooms accessible to students anywhere. It means students can attend class when they are ill or unable to travel to campus. It also improves the quality of lectures. As a result, it can lower costs while improving student success.

With the advent of new technologies, universities must take steps to adapt to these new challenges. For example, they should monitor power usage, develop energy efficiency, reduce e-waste, and engage IT professionals to build sustainable digital solutions. Further, they must implement a sustainable business model and introduce new control mechanisms.

Impact of Technology on Living Conditions

The financial crisis has uncovered the digital divide that limits access to education. To close this gap, we must improve digital and human infrastructure, including student skills, teacher capacity, and parent support. We also need to implement logistical systems that support technology deployment. And we need to do all this while considering the needs of the next generation.

Schools were locked down in many countries because of the pandemic, and over 300 million learners were displaced from their schools. It is equivalent to 18% of the enrolled student population. Despite the broader implications of this epidemic, existing studies can shed some light on the issue.

Technology is changing the way we teach, learn, and live. It has changed the teaching and learning process and increased student interest. Commercially developed simulations, courseware, and computers are altering the daily operations of educational institutions.

The post How Innovative Investments Benefit Educational Institutions appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How To Start Your Business Digital Transformation in 2022

Did you know that 63% of the world is on the internet

If we take the present internet penetration rate, we can expect anywhere from 70% to 80% of the global population to be on the internet. No other technology has brought this amount of people on the same platform.

Digitization is essential for any business, organization, entity, or person to use the internet to its full potential. Simply having your business listed on the internet is not a measure of digitization. The more technology you use in your day-to-day operations, the more digitized your business becomes.

At the same time, there are both efficient and inefficient ways of digitizing your business. Technology should make your business better in every way. If technology is not making your operations more efficient, either of the following possibilities is true:

You’re using the wrong technology You are being inefficient in your use of tech solutions

This guide will guide you through everything you need to know about digitizing your business in 2022. 

How To Start Your Business Digital Transformation

 

How to start your business digital transformation

Digitizing your business is not a one-time project. It’s a continuous and iterative process, that is, you grow as you go.

Surveys have revealed that 70% of businesses are actively or passively working on the digital transformation of their processes. However, ignoring digitization in 2022 is a huge mistake that some companies continue to make. Let’s find out how not to make the same mistakes. 

1. Digitize finance and accounting

Finance and accounting (F&A) is a core component of all businesses, large or small. If your accounting is not efficient, every other aspect of operations will suffer.

It’s also easy to digitize accounting. Depending on your scale and needs, there are multiple SaaS accounting tools to choose from. These applications integrate within your existing workflow and make accounting processes more efficient.

There are many benefits of digitizing finance and accounting. We can broadly classify the perks as:

Accuracy: Making fewer accounting mistakes

Staying up-to-date – with the newest regulations, policies, and laws

Digitizing your finance and accounting can help you:

Cut costs Make better investment decisions Save on tax payments Avoid paying penalties and fines Gain insights on spending Get better at budgeting and allocating funds

Additionally, there are a range of other areas where you can benefit from digital accounting and finance management. 

a) Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software 

We can look at digital document management as a part of digitizing financial operations. Physically storing and sorting documents is inefficient. Companies use the best OCR software to overcome this problem. OCR helps convert images of texts into readable data for computers.  

The combination of digital documents and financial management will help your business in different ways. It’s the easiest way to manage your finances, documents, expenses, savings, and investments. Digitizing accounts and finances is the best approach to start digitizing your businesses. 

b) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software 

ERP technology is used for managing procurement, accounting, supply chain management, governance risk and compliance, and change management. Digital transformation in this area would mean adopting intelligent ERP tools, with the industry leaders being Oracle ERP Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics 365.  

2. Digitize customer service

Digitize customer service

A McKinsey survey revealed that digitization of customer service can increase customer satisfaction by 33% while reducing up to 35% cost. Digitizing customer service is not easy, but it’s worth the effort.

It’s crucial to consider the long-term benefits you will gain with digital customer service. Customer service is resource intensive. It demands the presence of customer executives 24/7. Managing a customer service infrastructure can be a huge expense for companies. Digital solutions are the only way to reduce customer service expenses while maintaining the quality of service.

Here are some strategies to digitize customer service and improve customer satisfaction: 

a) Chatbots

Surveys show chatbots can handle 68% of all conversations up to the resolution of the issue. Considering the use cases of chatbots, it makes very little sense to not have one for your app and website.

Chatbots do not necessarily replace human customer executives. But they reduce the workload. Issues that chatbots cannot solve get passed on to humans. This integrated process of customer service reduces time and cost and improves efficiency.

You are missing out on a plethora of benefits if you aren’t using chatbots in 2022. It’s one of the best innovations in recent years for businesses. 

b) Live chats

Live chats are convenient, fast, and accessible for most customers. Offering live interactions over chat improves customer satisfaction. It also accounts for customers who prefer not to get on calls for every minor issue.

Live chats also help per query time. Customer executives can easily solve many minor problems over a few texts. It also allows a single customer executive to manage multiple customers.

Cart abandonment is a common issue for eCommerce stores. Live chats can effectively reduce cart abandonment rates while building trust. As a result, it helps boost sales both directly and indirectly. 

c) Customer communication channels

Customers and potential customers use various channels to communicate with a business. For example, they use messaging apps, social media platforms, emails, live chats, calls, and even conversations with chatbots.

With so many communication channels comes the problem of unifying them. CRM, or custom relationship management, tools are generally used to tackle this issue. CRM software allows you to track customer interactions across touchpoints and bring it all together.

With consolidated customer data, you can create better buyer personas. It also helps in converting leads, increasing sales, and giving customers a better buying experience. 

d) Engage buyers on social media 

Social media helps brands improve their image and awareness. At the same time, it also gives brands a feedback loop. Companies can collect data on pain points, complaints, and what the market wants through comments, tweets, posts, and other forms of social media communication.

Having social media presence is not enough by itself in 2022. How you use the various social media platforms is the bigger concern. Almost every business uses social media for marketing and advertising. But incorporating a customer feedback system into your social media platforms helps you make better business decisions. 

Also read: A Marketer’s Guide to Using Customer Testimonials and Feedback

3. Digitize marketing

How to Become a Growth Marketing Strategist?

Digital marketing and marketing have become synonymous over the last decade. As a result, marketing automation tools are among the most popular SaaS tools on the internet.

Every aspect of marketing can be digitized for efficiency. Standard marketing channels like social media marketing and search engine marketing are the most popular approaches. But digital marketing is about more than that. It’s about automating and digitizing every possible aspect of marketing.

A digital marketing strategy includes long-term plans to expand your business and improve brand awareness. A complete strategy includes aspects of customer acquisition, brand marketing, converting leads, and enhancing customer relationships.

You can use the following channels to create a long-term and sustainable digital marketing strategy:

Influencer marketing: Using social media stars and influencers as the voices and ambassadors of your brand. Incorporate both paid and organic influencer marketing to get the best results. Email marketing: Email marketing continues to be one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching more people. It may seem outdated, but email marketing is as effective as ever. Email marketing also allows more customization and personalization than most marketing channels. Brand story: Creating a unified brand story is a considerable marketing challenge, but the results are well worth the effort. You need to sell a story more than you need to sell a product or service. Creating brand stories makes this possible. Experiential marketing: Attaching experiences with products and services is an innovative marketing tool. You can use digital solutions to create memorable buying experiences for your customers.

As you can see, digital marketing is more than social media and content marketing. The core idea is to connect with customers across channels and digital touchpoints. Aim to create a cohesive and unified experience for your customers whenever they interact with your brand online. 

4. Digitization for a more efficient workforce

Even if you have a small team of employees, the business’s success depends on its performance. Digitization is not only about making the customer experience better. It’s also about making employees more efficient and the working experience better.

There are several strategies to digitize your team and office. Using remote work strategies is one of the best ways to do so. You are missing out on multiple advantages if you aren’t recruiting remote employees in 2022.

Apart from a few departments, most arms of a business can work remotely. It helps a business cut costs while getting high-quality work. Choose from any of the remote working platforms to make your workforce more efficient.

Consider using digital solutions for a better employee experience as well. Cloud-based time tracking tools, internal communication systems, and project management tools are some of the many ways to improve workforce performance and satisfaction through digitization. 

Is digitization the future of businesses?

Yes, digitization is both the present and the future of business. Everything around us is digitizing rapidly. 

There are many advantages to getting onto the digitization bandwagon at the earliest. Digitizing more and more processes is the only way to future-proof your businesses.

The post How To Start Your Business Digital Transformation in 2022 appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Top Start Up Ideas for Budding Entrepreneurs

A strong entrepreneur is one who can turn a small gap in the market into a burgeoning start-up, with almost unlimited potential in terms of growth and development. All it takes is being able to recognise where those small, hairline cracks are, and having the speed and know-how to get there first.

With that in mind, here are some of the most lucrative start-up ideas for entrepreneurs in 2022.

Top Start Up Ideas for Budding Entrepreneurs

 

Virtual Assistants are fast becoming a backbone to businesses around the world

The concept of a virtual assistant is relatively simple. They are able to perform a wide range of administrative tasks on behalf of a business or individual, often on a part-time basis, much like a traditional independent contractor. The main distinction is, of course, the fact that they work remotely – from virtually anywhere in the world.

Virtual assistants can be utilised to alleviate workload during times of growth and disruption within a company, or to fill-in for members who are on annual leave, for instance. They are ideal for enabling business owners and other entrepreneurs to focus their attention on key tasks, effectively freeing up their hands of any administrative duties.

It has been predicted that the virtual assistant market size is set to grow by $4.12 billion – an exciting outlook for anyone looking to make headway in a burgeoning industry.

3D Printing’s potential for a wide range of key verticals makes it a tempting venture for the right entrepreneur

We all know the basics of 3D printing. As a technology, it’s been around in various forms for a number of years already, from (relatively) small at-home 3D printers that enthusiasts can use to design and create objects, toys, and art to the machines that have been pioneering new tools and resources for the worlds of medicine and science.

Now, it’s clear that 3D printing holds significant potential for the future. From building homes to creating innovative new products for health, sport, furniture, and fashion, breaking into the industry means tapping into unlimited potential to the right entrepreneur.

App development positions you as a lifeline for a wide range of businesses

The best businesses to break into are often those that have a wide scope in terms of target market, and one of the very widest is app development. Businesses from almost every industry out there are interested in developing their own app, and earning themselves a coveted spot on their customers’ home screens.

Developing a good app is tricky. Users are growing increasingly discerning when it comes to quality, and creating not only a good user experience, but a memorable one, is the number one priority for any app developer who wants to retain a strong position in this landscape.

What to remember

First off, keep in mind that there’s no such thing (anymore) as a totally untapped industry. You will always face stiff competition, no matter which venture you move into, so be prepared for a tough fight in the beginning as you find and assert your USP.

Secondly, in any industry, a few key elements spell the difference between long-term success and rapid failure. Turning to an accountant as soon as possible will ensure your numbers stay in order, and enlisting the help of a corporate solicitor will ensure that, even from the outset, you have expertise on your side. They can advise you on choosing the right business structure, issuing shares, tax matters, and protecting your interests now, and into the future.

Creating a scalable plan that will see you through many years of development and change is the best thing you can do for yourself, no matter what industry you put down roots in.

The post Top Start Up Ideas for Budding Entrepreneurs appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
7 Best Automation Tools for Startups

Automation is updating the way businesses manage their processes. It helps them simplify the tedious processes and scale up their business growth in ways that are unimaginable. While some businesses implement these tools to improve their employee engagement, others use them to revamp their business processes or to improve overall business efficiency.

Due to the limited workforce strength, startups and small businesses can actually adapt to newer technologies in a better way compared to medium or large-scale enterprises and make a business more valuable. But the dilemma here is to choose the best among the ones available in the market. Thus in this article, we have enumerated some prominent business automation tools for startups.

Best Automation Tools for Startups

Best Automation Tools to Improve and Sustain Startup Growth 1. TalentRecruit – For Recruitment & Onboarding

TalentRecruit is an enterprise-ready complete recruiting platform that best suits all types of business sizes. But as it is affordable, startups can leverage it. It is a powerful, extensive, and configurable recruitment platform that uses AI and ML to improve and simplify your traditional hiring practices. These ML capabilities also help in bifurcating, ranking, and auto-suggesting top talents according to the requirements.

The platform offers features that allow hiring managers to connect with candidates during any stage of the hiring process, thus improving talent management and engagement from the beginning. Not only hiring, but it also offers an intuitive onboarding platform to make employees’ first day pleasant and engaging.

Salient features

Virtual Recruiter Erika helps recommend the best-matched candidates among the shortlisted ones and improves candidate engagement by resolving their queries on the spot. You can easily set up examinations for candidates, manage interview schedules as per the availability of candidates, HR, and interviewers, and assess interview performance using the multi-level evaluation platform. Automate your candidate offer management by simplifying offer approval, creating varied templates, and tracking offer acceptance. Its New Hire portal allows new hires to understand company culture, sign digital documents, attend training, and much more to ensure a smooth, delightful, and paperless process. The complete hiring solution can be seamlessly integrated with HRMS, job portals, social platforms, email or SMS services, evaluation platforms, etc. 2. factoTime – For Attendance Tracking

Monitoring the presence of your workforce is extremely essential, especially during remote working. factoTime is a mainstream time tracking solution that automates attendance management and is built for small-scale businesses and startup companies like yours.

Whether it is office premises or any remote location such as sales, client meetings, etc., employees can mark their attendance directly using punch with selfie and location feature from their mobile devices. This helps HR or managers to have greater visibility of remote employee attendance and get rid of the old biometric systems. In addition, employees can also view their attendance and total working hours details.

Salient features

Admin can easily add, delete, or correct attendance in case of any missed punch from their mobile device. In the case of travel expense management, you can store advances taken by employees and monitor total expense details. Define employees’ varied pay rates and process basic payroll calculations quickly based on the work hours captured. Their QR code attendance feature is very beneficial and secure as the admin has to scan the unique QR codes generated in employees’ mobile devices rather than vice versa. This eliminates buddy punching. You can also schedule shifts, create holiday and work calendars, and generate ready-to-download attendance reports in custom formats. It comes with a web portal and mobile app for both android and iOS platforms. 3. ClickUp – For Project Management

ClickUp is a comprehensive tool that helps organizations, teams, and individuals to organize tasks and reduce work silos. Using this all-in-one platform, you can track employees’ work, chat with team members, and set goals.

Furthermore, any of your teams or departments can leverage ClickUp to manage their unique tasks flexibly. You also get an intuitive mobile app to manage global tasks on the go.

Salient features

Divide any type of project into subtasks and customize them using 35+ ClickApps. Leverage 4 types of customizable views: list view, kanban view, box view, and calendar view to get better visibility over all your tasks at once. Develop custom documents and link them to tasks and workflows so your team can work together in real time. Team members can map their ideas and collaborate using virtual whiteboards. Build customized and flexible dashboards using 50+ widgets to get insights about all the activities and reduce bottlenecks in the process. Chat with your teammates, assign tasks, and share files. 4. Xero – For Accounting Management

Xero is a well-known and highly regarded cloud-based accounting platform for small businesses, bookkeepers, and accountants. It also comes with an advanced mobile application where you can track your business finances at your fingerprints.

It is a complete expense tracking solution that helps businesses connect with their banks, payment services, accounting systems, etc., to keep everything secure.

Salient features

You can directly pull finance and expense records from scanners, bank portals, invoicing applications, etc. You can bifurcate certain expenses and suggest changes to facilitate bank reconciliation. Financial reporting for audit purposes can be simplified as you can generate balance sheets and other essential statements with a single click. Get all the important statistics related to expenses or billing in a single place using the business dashboard option. It can be integrated with multiple third-party apps to boost business processes. 5. Bitrix24 – For CRM

Bitrix24 offers one single system to manage every aspect related to sales and client support. It is a CRM platform that helps in acquiring and managing leads, improving client service, and closing contracts.

There is no per-user pricing which makes it a budget-friendly CRM for businesses. Its prominent features include features like client database, pipeline management, omnichannel marketing, sales analytics, etc.

Salient features

Whether your sales executive works remotely or at the office, you can track their tasks and projects, schedule video conferences, and track their productivity effortlessly. You can attract leads via web templates, calls, social media, messages, or forms and manage all prospects, leads, and client deals using the drag-and-drop feature in a single place. You can handle marketing campaigns, targeted ads, etc., to attract prospects. You can simplify workflows and sales funnels with the help of various automation features. This system also streamlines inventory management, wherein you can control your warehouses and stocks. You can enhance customer communication, integrate social media, provide support through live chat, and connect through VoIP telephones. 6. Skype – For Employee Communication

Skype is the world’s leading communication tool to help establish a better and free communication channel for employee interaction. It is an easy-to-use texting, group calling, and individual calling platform that can be used even for interacting with clients.

It can be used for high-quality video conferencing, clear voice calling, messaging, and sharing data. With the help of VoIP telephony, managers can communicate with their team members and discuss project tasks even during remote work.

Salient features

You can record calls to focus on ongoing meetings rather than taking notes, which can be performed afterward. All your contacts that use Skype will be listed in a single place. Connecting and reaching people who don’t use Skype is extremely easy and affordable using Skype’s local number. Leverage real-time translation and live subtitles to understand any video or voice conversation and stay ahead in your tasks. It comes with standard end-to-end encryption, so your conversation remains private. 7. Buffer – For Social Media Management

Buffer is an intuitive and user-friendly social media management system that is used by many brands, individuals, freelancers, businesses, etc. You can schedule posts or stories for any time and date, engage with the audience, and reply to important comments.

It is freely available to manage up to 3 channels and is best for small businesses who want to get started. You can control various channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, and Start Pages for your brand.

Salient features

Based on audience activity, it determines the ideal publishing time and posting type. Evaluate the performance of your social media and get meaningful insights. Create your “link in bio” and gather all of your best content in one place to boost interaction. Personalize reports by adding your logo and brand name. Concentrate on critical comments and interact with your audience.

Concluding Notes

You can actually improve employee productivity and business progress by harnessing technology. But in case you are wondering which tools to choose, you can understand your workforce challenges and needs. Also, as a startup, put your budget forward while procuring any digital system. All these tools mentioned above have costs worth the features they provide, so you can avail free trials or software demos to understand them in-depth.

The post 7 Best Automation Tools for Startups appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
6 Best Practices for Creating a High-ROI Demand Generation Campaign

Demand generation is a crucial aspect of any modern marketing campaign. However, it’s not a skill that’s so easy to master and apply. To build demand effectively, you must know your target buyers in-depth and tailor your message to them.

Sadly, many people use the area approach. They aim basic and detached messages at a broad audience and hope some will respond. This is a poor tack that yields bad results. If you are in that boat or looking to improve your demand generation, read on. We will discuss demand generation and how to improve your approach to it. 

Demand Generation—What’s It About?

For any goods to sell, there has to be a demand for them. However, this demand isn’t always already there. Consumers may not know of the products, or they might but don’t think they need them. This is the purview of demand generation.

A demand generation campaign is a highly planned and data-fuelled tack for stoking interest in your products. The idea is to educate people about your business, products, and use of your services. 

Now, you may have also heard of Lead Generation, which some conflate with demand generation. You should not mix both. While not wholly the same as demand, a lead generation comes in after you’ve stoked the interest in potential patrons. In short, demand generation shows them who to go to; lead generation seeks to turn the demand into a purchase.

6 Best Practices for Creating a High-ROI Demand Generation Campaign

How to Build a High-ROI Demand Generation Campaign 

What are the best things you can do for more ROI in your demand generation campaign?

1.  Invest in a Demand Generation Service

Demand generation is complex work that calls for great care. You must know what makes your audience tick, plan thoroughly, refine your approach, and apply it consistently. Yet, not everyone can take care of all that, especially with multiple concerns to cater to. So, what to do? Why not invest in a demand generation service?!

When you outsource the job to an experienced service team, your table becomes much freer. Then, you will have more time to work on other aspects of your marketing affairs. Further, you can learn much about demand generation from watching the Meisters at work. So, while it may cost you money at first, you will eventually be able to run your campaign yourself.

2. Try Content Marketing 

One of the most widespread and effective approaches to marketing these days is Content Marketing. It involves creating useful digital content on blogs, sites, etc., to drive good user response. 

People value expert opinion, and offering helpful content is a great way to show your expertise to your audience—and it works! According to a 2022 survey of B2B outfits, 72% of content marketers use it for demand generation, and to good effect. 

So, a content marketing approach is worth the investment—if you do it right. And to do that, you need a good content plan that includes:

What themes to focus on How to make unique and useful content How often to publish new content

With these in place, you can then execute the plan. 

3. Make Content for All Relevant Stages

Many marketers make the mistake of creating content for a limited audience at just one or two stages. You have to make content that will inform and educate your audience at various stages of the marketing funnel. Instead of making content focused on, say, products, have a diverse focus. Here are some crucial ways you can do that:

You can make content to compare your products and the other options. This will likely convince users who are not sure that your product is what they need. You can make FAQs and educational pieces that will answer visitors’ questions and project your image as the go-to guy for expert information. You can make content centered on your product and its pros.

Content like this will help bring in unsure customers, including those who have heard of your product but don’t know much about it.

4. Speak to Your Ideal Audience 

Want to know the secret of high-ROI demand generation? It’s customer research. Yet, only 40% of marketers base their choices on customer research. That’s a sad state of affairs. 

Especially if you’re just getting started, you need to engage in strong market research. Speak with your target audience or avid customer (if you already have them) in person. Ask about their problems, how they view content, and the sites they visit. You can also speak to pleased consumers about their best features and usage patterns. 

Then, you can use the data you have gotten to create product-led content. You can offer real-life cases of your product solving problems for other users.

5. Analyze the Competition 

Like living things, every marketer exists within a population of similar people among whom there will be competition. And while competition can be a pain in the posterior, you can still gain from it. Think of the marketing space as one big sample space from which you can get data on what works and what doesn’t. 

So, observe your rivals and ask the vital questions:

What content are they making? What strategy are they using? How well is it working? Can you apply it in your case? If yes, how?

By running a thorough analysis of what your rivals are doing, you can derive crucial data that will help refine your approach. 

6. Try Multi-Channeling, But With Trainers On

These days, there are so many channels you can use to extend your campaign. So, why not make use of them? With more than one channel to work with, you can reach a larger target audience.

However, there is one danger: you risk spreading yourself too thin, which can be counterproductive. So, what to do? Try just a few channels, say, three or four. By working with as many channels as you can manage to goof effect, you can get the best results from a multi-channel demand generation campaign.

Final Remarks

Bear in mind, that data is king! The current century is data-driven, and every marketer who must succeed needs to get with the trend. Engage in research to gain insight into the mind of your audience. Know them as much as you can, then offer them useful content that will inform draw them to your goods. Giving good value should be your watchword. 

Lastly, always keep an active rapport with your current clients while expanding your reach. 

The post 6 Best Practices for Creating a High-ROI Demand Generation Campaign appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Leveraging Cryptocurrencies Can Transform Businesses Forever

Lately, the development of blockchain technology has provided organisations with innovative types of digital assets like cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. They put the foundation for developing new payment rails that can move value from one country to another in real-time and at low costs. 

Cryptocurrencies have gained mainstream acceptance across the globe over the last few years because people are looking for innovative ways to diversify their savings portfolio, save on transaction fees, and protect their financials against inflation. Well-known brands such as Starbucks, PayPal, Microsoft, AT&T, AMC Theatres, and Whole Foods are some of the names that accept crypto payments. The cryptocurrency market is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2026, and more venues around the world to integrate cryptocurrency payments into their services. 

Digital coin payments allow organisations to develop new and innovative offerings for their clients. They can create mobile apps that enable buyers to use digital coins to purchase products, services, or platforms that automate payments. 

The popularity of crypto assets is spurred by their ability to lower fees and enable free international transactions. The blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies facilitates more secure payments, which would benefit a business looking for ways to maintain payment processing costs at a minimum. More organisations adopting cryptocurrency payments will instil greater transparency into transactions and boost security. This would help especially international businesses that need a form of payment that allows them to cut down transaction fees for their clients. 

Leveraging Cryptocurrencies Can Transform Businesses Forever

How cryptocurrency integration improves business practices

Organisations and individuals have a growing interest in crypto assets as they search for more affordable, faster, and easier payment processing solutions. Here is how cryptocurrency payments benefit businesses. 

No need for intermediary

The biggest benefit companies get when using crypto payments is they save money on processing fees. Traditional financial institutions like banks or payment gateways ask for a percentage fee for each transaction. Even if they usually ask a fee from 1% to 4% to process a transaction, which might not seem much, when the costs add up, they can make a small business lose its competitive edge or experience cash flow issues. 

Small businesses usually pay higher transaction fees than bigger companies, and they would benefit from integrating cryptocurrency payment and using blockchain technology. Digital coins promise improved flexibility for companies by facilitating access to international markets without being concerned about exchange fees and rates. When a company relies on blockchain technology, it doesn’t work with banks because it transacts business directly with sellers and buyers. Therefore, merchants can offer discounts on products and services to attract more clients. Cryptocurrency payments make transactions more efficient because neither the business nor the client has to pay purchase fees. 

The use of digital currencies enables companies to gain access to new clients who prefer to pay with cryptocurrencies. Research shows that 40% of the buyers that pay with digital coins are new to the seller. 

The business benefits from improved freedom over its finances

Sometimes companies cannot take certain financial actions because they have limited resources or other external pressures that restrict their performance. An organisation might have several ideas for expanding its operations and boosting efficiency, but it might lack the necessary funds to pursue its goals. Sometimes the only solution is to take debt to fund their operations. 

Blockchain technology offers companies direct access to their finances without having to work with a third party; therefore, it has more freedom on how to use its funds. 

Enhanced identity protection

When someone completes a financial transaction with a bank or payment gateway, their personal details are sent through unsecured channels and stored in databases vulnerable to cybercriminals. Cybercriminals have great skills these days and can hack even the artificial intelligence behind a financial infrastructure. If the buyer’s credit card number is stolen during a data breach, a cybercriminal can use it and compromise their financials. 

When organisations rely on a blockchain-based identity system, the buyers can hold their information in an encrypted place only the user can control it. Blockchain technology uses advanced cryptography to protect sensitive information and buyers’ identities. 

Which cryptocurrencies are most used for business transactions?

Everyone knows that Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency among traders, but is it the most used for business transactions? Bitcoin promised to start a payment revolution when it was first launched, but it proved that it’s challenging to deliver its promise as its network is too slow and volatile for it. Over the last few years, we witnessed a rise in popularity of other digital coins that are better payment cryptocurrencies. 

Ethereum 

Ethereum is the second-most popular cryptocurrency worldwide for a reason, it’s the first digital coin to use smart contracts. Many of the businesses that integrated cryptocurrency payment into their operations prefer Ethereum because other applications and cryptocurrencies widely use its network. Ethereum price is another factor that convinces organisations to adopt ETH payment. 

Zcash

Zcash is a digital currency that focuses on privacy, and therefore it offers an essential benefit to businesses looking for ways to enhance their clients’ privacy. Several advertisers and third-party payment providers adopted it as an accepted payment method. 

Dash

Dash gained great popularity as a cash alternative in Venezuela when the country experienced an economic crisis. Dash has several ATMs worldwide, and its app works on multiple devices, making it easier for customers to use digital currency for online transactions. 

Litecoin

Litecoin has four times more available coins than Bitcoin and completes financial transactions four times faster. It’s no surprise that many online merchants prefer it. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts probably know that its open-source software was the basis for the meme-coin Dogecoin. 

Monero 

Monero is another digital coin that prioritises privacy and offers a secure payment system. Because it disguises the user’s wallet address, it provides online users with anonymity. 

Ripple

Ripple is one of the cryptocurrencies that rank in the top 10 digital coins. However, over the last months, its evolution has been hampered by a SEC lawsuit that discusses if it should have been sold as a security. 

The public sector can use cryptocurrencies to bring back competition to payments. 

The post Leveraging Cryptocurrencies Can Transform Businesses Forever appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Advantages of Implementing a Link Building Strategy with a Link Building Agency

Link-building is fast becoming one of—if not the most—integral digital marketing strategies for businesses across many industries. After all, when correctly implemented, it can boost website traffic, improve search rankings, and create brand awareness. Without it, you’ll miss out on opportunities to generate exposure for your offerings, which your competitors will likely take advantage of to get them ahead. With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of implementing link-building strategies for your business.

Advantages of Implementing a Link Building Strategy with a Link Building Agency

1. Increases website traffic

All brands and companies want to increase their website traffic because it gives them more opportunities to transform visitors into paying customers. And this is one of the advantages of adopting link-building practices. For starters, if you get other sites to start linking to yours, you’ll have more chances to get clicks from users. Secondly, the backlinks also serve to boost your online domain’s authority, expertise, and trust, leading to better rankings and greater streams of traffic.

Best of all, there are companies you can outsource the job to if you lack the knowledge or expertise to do it yourself. For example, hiring a reliable link-building agency like Ocere won’t just save you time but also money than if you kept the work in-house.

2. Higher search rankings

Effective link-building strategies can also help businesses achieve higher rankings in the search results of Google, Bing, and other search engines. Whenever relevant websites link to another, it gives search engines useful context when it comes to ranking. For example, if a boating website with a high domain authority score links to a site for fishing supplies, it’ll signify that the online domain may be an authority on the specific subject. The more relevant and authoritative the linking website is, the better the odds of the receiving site gaining higher search rankings.

3. Better reputation and credibility

As previously mentioned, link-building can help a business improve its domain authority. In doing so, it helps the website gain a more favourable position on the search engine results pages for its targeted keywords. Moreover, it enhances brand reputation. All experienced business owners know that trust is vital to the success of any entrepreneurial venture, as the more credible it is, the more likely it will encourage consumers to pay for their products. Through link building, you can improve your image.

4. Lowers bounce rates

As its name suggests, bounce rate is the percentage of your total unique website visitors who leave after viewing only a single page. Most search engines usually consider it to be an indicator that people aren’t finding the things they need. With link-building, you get users to click on pages on the site, helping reduce the bounce rate that could impact your SEO efforts.

Conclusion

Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits of link-building, you may be wondering how you can get started reaping its benefits. While there are many strategies and practices you can do yourself, it’s always recommended to hire a professional for the job. It can be a tricky and complicated process, after all, and you’ll get much better results by hiring experts.

The post Advantages of Implementing a Link Building Strategy with a Link Building Agency appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How to Buy the Best Liquidation Pallets Quickly Near You

Have you been wondering how to earn a lot of money in a short period of time? If you’ve been scratching your head to find a way to increase your income, you’re in luck.

There’s currently no hotter business venture to explore than reselling liquidation merchandise. It is cheap, affordable, convenient, and extremely profitable. Plus you don’t even need to have a large budget to get started.

If you’re wondering where such cheap, high-quality goods come from, we’ll give you a crash course. Retail giants often end up with overstock, shelf pulls, seasonal merchandise, and returned items. So they ship them off to the wholesale liquidation companies with the prices slashed to be sold off quickly.

If you’re new to the marketplace, learning how to buy liquidation pallets can seem very daunting. But once you apply some proven buying tips, you’ll be able to purchase great products and resell them to earn a huge profit.

So let’s explore how you can buy the best liquidation pallets quickly near you.

How to Buy the Best Liquidation Pallets Quickly Near You

Here are Some Tips to Help You Buy The Best Liquidation Pallets Research the Market First

It is very important to do the required market research before starting any business venture. The liquidation marketplace is certainly full of opportunities but you need to know how to navigate wholesale liquidation companies, good stocks and prices.

So don’t hesitate to read up on the most popular products in demand right now. This will help you find a reliable niche and cater to the target audience better. It also doesn’t hurt to do a competitive analysis to see what other similar businesses are buying and reselling.

Go in With a Strong Strategy

There is a lot of planning required when you decide to buy liquidation pallets. You’ll be better prepared to approach a liquidation store if you have a strategy ready.

The first thing you need to do is to plan your budget. So sort out your finances and decide how much you need to spend to get your hands on some high-quality goods. Then you need to figure out how, where and to who you should sell the products to.

Understand the Products You’re Selling

It’s well-known that liquidation pallets contain a random mixture of different products. So you can expect to find both high-quality and low-quality goods when you source them from wholesale liquidation companies.

Be sure to check where these liquidation pallets are coming from. If the liquidation store sources them from a brand that is shutting down, you’ll find tons of branded and high-quality items. But if they are customer returns, the chances of ending up with damaged or refurbished are high.

Choose the Right Supplier

This is perhaps the most important tip to buy liquidation pallets. You need to find a reliable supplier who will provide you with the best goods to build up your inventory quickly.

You can Google ‘liquidation stores near me’ and find out which popular suppliers you should be approaching. Later on, don’t forget to pick a supplier that specialises in dealing with products in your niche. Make sure to check their business reputation and client reviews too.

Read the Listings Thoroughly

As we said, liquidation pallets come with a wide variety of goods. Once you decide what products you want to sell, you should only buy liquidation pallets that contain them.

The best way to decide which liquidation pallet to buy is by studying the listings. It will help you understand the pricing and what kind of products they contain. This will also help you determine your own reselling price to attract customers and earn profits.

Buy From Auction Platforms

If you’re running a small business, auction platforms are the best place to buy liquidation pallets. Since the pallets are sold according to the bids, you will have the chance to compete fairly with other buyers. In a way, it levels the playing field for both small and large businesses. It also lets you browse through the selection of pallets to buy the best one for your business.

Prepare for Potential Pitfalls

The next tip is to prepare your business for any potential roadblocks and pitfalls. You can start by ensuring that you’ve covered all legal procedures and formalities of reselling liquidation merchandise.

Major Causes of Business Failure and startup failure, Avoid These Mistakes with Your Startup

You should also be prepared to avert any problems in case you don’t receive pallets on time or you go over the planned budget. There should also be a backup plan in case a batch of merchandise doesn’t bring in a high volume of sales.

Don’t Jump at the First Deal

Many wholesale liquidation companies offer a lot of great deals and discounts to buyers like you. While it may be tempting to jump at the first deal they dangle in front of you, we strongly advise against it.

If you have a list of products you need, consult that before making any purchase decisions. Feel free to walk around and browse through all their options to find the best deal for your business.

Conclusion

Buying goods from a liquidation store at a fraction of the original cost and reselling them is an extremely rewarding and profitable business venture. You can definitely build a long-term career out of it. If you want, it can also be a side hustle to help increase your income quickly.

So follow these proven tips to source the best liquidation pallets and take your business to the next level.

The post How to Buy the Best Liquidation Pallets Quickly Near You appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

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2022 Awards Finalists Announced

EDMONTON, AB – A group of ten extraordinary Alberta women entrepreneurs were named this year’s AWE Awards finalists.

“These finalists represent incredible possibility, remarkable innovation, and undeniable talent,”  says Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. “They are moving their businesses and our province forward.”

The awards, presented by ATB Financial, recognize the efforts of women entrepreneurs in four categories. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Jennifer Schaeffer, Onlea Enterprises, Inc.

Shannon Van Norman, Shadow Vista Productions

Ashley Wevers, AdvancdAg Inc.

Carey Ann Thurlow, Risio Institute for Digital Dental Education Inc.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur who has a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Mallory Yawnghwe, Indigenous Box Inc.

Vanessa Marshall, Jack59 Inc.

Angie Saltman, Saltmedia Inc

Upsurge Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Breanne Everett, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.

Deanne Beis, Tenfold HR Solutions

Jenelle Wensley, Genex Marketing

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta. Previous award winners include such notable Alberta entrepreneurs as Karina Birch of Rocky Mountain Soap Co., Karen Ryan and Lara Murphy of Ryan Murphy Construction, and Angela Santiago of The Little Potato Company.

Along with the awards, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the awards, visit: www.awebusiness.com/2022-awards-celebration . Get your ticket to the in-person Awards Celebration at the Edmonton Expo Center on September 13 on Eventbrite.

- Stephanie Nunn
Sustainability in Business

Sustainability has many advantages for your business. It can provide an improved brand image, greater employee retention, competitive advantages, and tax benefits, as well as minimize business costs and increase productivity and efficiency. Caring about sustainability has become more prominent in recent years, and consumers are more aware of a company’s impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Taking action to create a more sustainable company can increase customer loyalty and help to grow a successful business.

This article will break down sustainability into its three main pillars; social, economic, and environmental. These pillars are also sometimes referred to as people, profit, and planet.

Social SustainabilityWhat is Social Sustainability?

Social Sustainability focuses on how business operations impact people; including employees, suppliers, and partners. Social Sustainability can improve business strategy, supply chain, and consumer perception of the business. It can also help attract business partners, improve employee morale, risk management, and can help a business lead their industry and stand out against the competition.

Businesses that focus on social sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Human rights

Fair labor practices

Healthcare access

Workplace safety

Diversity

Equity

Proper work-life balance

Cultural empowerment

Community engagement & volunteering

 Questions to ask yourself:

Does my business aim to meet the needs of a disadvantaged and/or marginalized group?

Does my business recognize cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity?

Does my business welcome diverse viewpoints, opinions and beliefs?

Does my business practice and encourage community contribution?

How does my business demonstrate commitment to an improved quality of life?

Economic Sustainability What is Economic Sustainability?

Economic Sustainability focuses on a business’s environment and economic wellbeing. Economic Sustainability promotes the idea of providing long-term benefits by growing the company in a way that is efficient and responsible to ensure consistent, ongoing profit without degradation.

Businesses that focus on economic sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Profit

Cost savings

Efficient resource use

Long-range planning

Smart economic growth

Taxes

R&D spending

Questions to ask yourself:

Am I tracking my business expenses, profit, and savings?

How can my business meet my present economic needs without diminishing future economic opportunities?

Am I reinvesting my business?

How much of my resources go to waste?

Does my business contribute to the financial welfare of the owners, employees, and the community it operates in?

Environmental Sustainability What is Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability focuses on maintaining business functions without jeopardizing the environment and the future of the planet. A business should responsibly interact with the planet to ensure natural resources are maintained and an environment that can continue to support human life is kept a priority. Environmentally sustainable business practices can also help to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Businesses that focus on environmental sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Resource management

Emissions reduction

Renewable energy sources

Recycling, composting

Natural alternatives

Questions to ask yourself:

Are my decisions reducing my business’s negative impact on the environment?

Am I developing strategies and processes that will lead to my business becoming more sustainable in the future?

How can my business lead the community and other businesses towards environmental sustainability?

Am I looking at short-term gain instead of focusing on my business’s long term impact?

How and where does my business source its materials and resources?

Does my business publish an annual environmental report?

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- Stephanie Nunn
BOLD Leadership Overview

In today’s day and age, it’s nearly impossible to run a business that doesn’t include a digital component. Incorporating digital aspects to your business can look like so much more than just an online storefront. Many entrepreneurs may be missing out on huge opportunities to strengthen their business by not taking advantage of all technological possibilities.

That’s where Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ BOLD Leadership program comes in.

 

Over the course of the program, entrepreneurs get a baseline of knowledge about what a digital transformation can look like for their business before creating a plan that fits their needs and abilities. “The Bold Leadership Program focuses on the critical components of building a digital strategy for a business.” Says Gabriela Touma; Bold Leadership Program Advisor. Covering a range of topics from digital marketing to improving the customer experience, the aim is of this program is to get participants thinking about all of the ways, big and small, that digitalization can save them time and money.

A lot of people feel overwhelmed because there is so much technology out there. AWE’s Bold Leadership program tries to give people enough of an idea of what the technologies are about and then how to start to incorporate that into their business.

Some entrepreneurs, like Danielle Cherewyk, focus on mapping out how to automate their business processes, saving their team dozens of hours a week. Others may focus on developing new revenue models so they can start scaling up. Beyond the tangible benefits that can come from putting new technologies into practice, the greatest win can be a shift in business culture.

 

We want to help leaders start creating a culture of innovation in their companies. Sometimes leaders will feel that all of the innovative ideas fall on them, but we help them build a framework so that they can actually draw on all the innovation and the talents in their team to help move the whole company forward.

“Within The Bold Leadership Program, business leaders will learn everything from how to build a digital strategy, how to effectively leverage current and emerging technologies, and how to understand the drivers of transformation, Touma says, but most importantly we are helping them navigate the digital space with other inspiring women leaders that are excited to learn, collaborate and add to the conversation.”

While teaching the skills is important, AWE recognizes that creating a network of support for businesses as they go through their digital transformation is what takes an idea from concept to execution. Participants have access to one-on-one time with expert digital advisors during and after the course so they can continue to receive advice that is relevant to their unique business.  

“The connections that happen in the program are remarkable. We’ve heard from many participants how much it has changed their businesses!”

- Guest User
You’ve Received Your Business Loan, Now What?

Getting the news that you’ve qualified for a loan to start or grow your business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Knowing where to start and what to do with it can feel overwhelming. Here’s what we recommend doing before you receive the loan or as soon as you do:

Have a clear understanding of the terms of your loan

Step 1 is making sure that you clearly understand what the terms of your loan are, and what your repayment plan is. These are important because some loans can only be used for certain things, plus it’s essential to follow the terms of your loan.

For example, AWE Loans can be used for market-ready start-ups, business expansion projects, and business purchases. Loans can be used for a variety of expenses, including:

Leasehold improvements

Equipment purchases

Operating capital

Advertising and marketing costs

Purchase of inventory

Loans cannot be used for:

Owner’s salary

Re-financing existing debt

Franchise fees

Speculative ventures (e.g. Purchase of land for resale)

Intangible goodwill (i.e. business name or reputation)

Research and development

Purchase of stocks, shares, or other non-productive investment

Review your repayment plan and make a budget

The next thing you should do when you receive your business loan is to make a budget based on your repayment plan. All loans come with repayment plans, which should be discussed when applying for the loan and going through the application process. Now that you have the money, you should sit down and make a budget based on what you plan on spending and the terms of your repayment plan. 

Prioritize what you got the loan for

Refer back to your strategic/marketing plan - what was your plan for this money? It’s important to stay the course as much as possible and utilize this loan money for its intended purposes. We know that things can come up along the way and plans can change, but the more you’re able to follow that initial strategic plan you created and spend your loan money on those things, the easier it will be to stay on track with repaying the loan. Holding yourself accountable can be difficult. If you don’t have a business partner to hold you accountable, consider speaking with a mentor, confidant or one of AWE’s Business Advisors

Once you are familiar with your terms and repayment plan, have a budget mapped out and know where you’re going to be prioritizing spending the loan money, you can start spending it! This can feel daunting at first, but with a well laid-out plan and lots of thought having gone into this whole process, you shouldn’t worry about taking this next exciting step to grow your business.

For more information on AWE’s Loan programs, click here.

- Amanda Muskego
2022 AWE Awards: Nominees Announced
Celebrating Extraordinary Albertan Entrepreneurs

MEDIA RELEASE

EDMONTON, AB –Alberta women entrepreneurs proved to be unstoppable in their efforts to better the world. Today, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is recognizing those efforts by naming nominees across four categories in its annual AWE Awards.

Awards Overview and Nominees

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous entrepreneur who has a strong business, and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Upsurge Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Celebration of Achievement Award – Awarded to an exceptional entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model in business.

VIEW NOMINEE LIST

Next Steps

Edmonton’s nominee reception will take place ON June 23rd and Calgary’s reception will take place ON June 28th. Finalists will be named prior to the awards celebration in September, at which AWE will announce the recipients.

Quotes

“Congratulations to all nominees! We are excited to celebrate the incredible contributions made by women in our province as you build a better economy and communities. Each year, our award nominees are inspiring examples of leadership and innovation in Alberta. Thank you for taking the risk to pursue your aspirations and inspiring others along your journey.”

- Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“ATB Financial is thrilled to celebrate the achievements of women in business. Your dedication to your goals and commitment to your dream has played a significant role in bringing resilience and transformation to Alberta's economy. Your passion inspires others and paves the way for future generations of women business owners and leaders. We congratulate all the nominees and wish you continued success!”

- Nikki Briggs, Head of Women in Business, ATB Financial

Quick Facts

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta.

Over the last 26 years, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through access to capital, connections and capacity.

Alberta small businesses contribute more GDP per capita than small businesses anywhere else in the country. In addition to providing jobs, these small businesses inject about $100 billion a year into the Alberta economy.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, ATB.        
- Amanda Muskego
How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace

The way you choose to communicate with your customer base is just one half of the coin. The tone that you set with your team behind the scenes is just as important to your success. Not only will an inclusive workplace create an environment where your employees feel comfortable and welcome, but research shows that organizations who make it a priority are more innovative and successful than their counterparts.

Having a diverse workforce includes hiring individuals with different backgrounds, ethnicities, neurodiversity, disabilities, and gender identities, creating a rich pool of life experiences to draw on. To be inclusive, there needs to be an emphasis on truly understanding the diversity of your employees and intentionally constructing a space where they feel like they belong and can thrive.

Recognize your bias

The first step towards creating a business that it equitable for every staff member is to take the time to educate yourself about your own biases. Even those of us with the best of intentions can be disregarding the needs of others due to a lack of awareness. Admitting what your blind spots are and identifying places where you need to do more learning is the first step to being someone your staff can count on.   

Create a safe space for employees

To create a truly inclusive space, team members should feel comfortable being vulnerable about their needs or pointing out places where there can be improvements. Frequently communicate and model the idea that everyone’s opinion is valued, and make sure there are a variety of avenues for individuals to express themselves and be heard, whether in a group setting, one-on-one, or anonymously.

Commit to constant learning

Being committed to inclusivity is not a one-and-done approach. Like other aspects of your business, it should continuously evolve and change as you learn more. No one is going to be able to get everything right all the time but developing a culture that is focused on growing together will move your team in the right direction. Consider how to have ongoing conversations with your staff and customers about your goals and look for opportunities to attend workshops or lectures that will further your knowledge on the topic.

Set goals and measure progress

At the end of the day, it can do more harm than good to say you’re going to work on inclusivity and then drop the ball when it comes to making real change. That’s why it’s key to set clear goals about what inclusivity is going to look like in your business and how you’re going to measure success. Be open to getting feedback from your employees on what is working well and what still needs improvement.

As you start to consider the many elements of an inclusive workspace and what is most important to your team, here are a few topics to keep in mind:

·         What language do you use in team meetings, on social media, on signage, and informally with your staff and customers? Think about the ways that your language may unintentionally be excluding or offending different groups of people. 

·         What holidays does your business observe and compensate staff for? Talk to your team members about what holidays they celebrate that may be different from you and consider what your vacation pay practices are.

·         What resources are available to your staff to support their individual needs? Who can they turn to if they aren’t getting the support they need? It’s hard to know all the barriers people face from first glance. Instead, have easily accessible information and resources that cover a range of needs and add to the list as necessary.

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, having an inclusive workplace will ultimately benefit everyone involved. When a team feels connected and appreciated, that transfers into a healthier space for them and better service for your customers.

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- Amanda Muskego
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs to receive $3 million in funding to provide more access to capital for women business owners

Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurs has received $3 million in grant funding through the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative. The Capital Growth Initiative is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, and an additional loan fund is now available to support women entrepreneurs who need easier access to capital. This investment will support more women who want to expand or start a business, helping diversify Alberta’s economy and creating new job opportunities throughout the province.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs and Community Futures Network of Alberta will administer the loans from the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative.  Under the initiative, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs will provide capital to women in Edmonton, Calgary, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, while Community Futures will provide capital to rural communities in Alberta. Under the initiative, up to $75,000 will be made available in repayable loans.

“Research proves that women entrepreneurs drive more than economic growth when their enterprises are successful – they change communities. Women were also disproportionately economically impacted by the pandemic. Access to capital for business investment for women entrepreneurs is essential to rebuilding Alberta's economy.”  - Marcela Mandeville, CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“Alberta’s economy has momentum and we want to keep it going. By ensuring that women entrepreneurs in our province have more access to capital to help grow their business, we are building for the future. This is an important opportunity to create more jobs and a stronger business environment.” - Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

Left to right: Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation, Phyllis Maki, Executive Director at Community Futures Network of Alberta, Marcela Mandeville, CEO at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Whitney Issik, Associate Minister of Status of Women, Anna Liska, Owner at Always Occasions, Jewel Buksa, Board Chair at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

About Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. AWE provides unique programs and services to women entrepreneurs through access to capital and connections, and support with building business capacity.

About Community Futures Network

Community Futures Network of Alberta has a rural focus and has helped rural Albertans launch, grow and scale their businesses. With 27 regional offices located throughout Alberta, Community Futures has significant reach into every corner of the province, including with First Nations, Métis Settlements, and Indigenous communities.

For more information:

Catherine Larose,

Marketing Lead, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

587 635 4278 ext.4278

catherine.larose@awebusiness.com

- Amanda Muskego
6 Elements to Building an Effective Communication Strategy During a Crisis

As a business owner many people will look to you as a leader during difficult situations. Customers and staff alike will look for direction on how your business is going to operate going forward and how they will fit into that picture. There are a few key things to keep in mind when creating a communication strategy that will help keep the conversations going in the right direction.

When communicating with customers:

Create Trust

During a crisis it’s important more than ever to be a reliable space for your customers. Once your business has decided on a strategy, make sure that your messaging is consistent. All communication channels and staff members should be saying the same thing. Defer to trusted, credible sources of information and let your customers know how those sources influence your decision-making.

Be Timely

The elements of your business could change rapidly as a crisis evolves, so it’s critical that there is a plan in place to update customers in a timely manner. Changes to business hours, products, and delivery can have an impact on when and how customers interact with you, and these factors should be updated through the appropriate channels as soon as they’re known while still acknowledging that information may change over time.

Build Community

In times of uncertainty the relationship that you have built with your customers can be a source of comfort for both you and them. As much as possible try to focus on messages of solidarity and forward-thinking to create resilience in your partnership. Invite your customers to think about what their future experiences with your business will feel like and how it can benefit them in times of hardship.

In addition to any online communication channels, it’s important to consider what practical, physical signage you may need to incorporate. Provincial and federal health websites provide free posters that can be downloaded and placed around your business. Some useful signs include:

·         PPE reminders (masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.)

·         Physical distancing

·         Business hours or an open sign (especially important in cases where the public may not expect you to be open or when hours are changing rapidly)

When communicating with staff members:

Be Transparent

There will inevitably be a few unknowns as you move through a crisis. Don’t be afraid to let your staff know what is uncertain or still being decided on. When decisions are being made, make a point of explaining why and what the implications will be for everyone involved.

Have Empathy

Good leaders should recognize that disasters are, of course, periods of stress and anxiety, and that will be no different for your staff members. It’s important to express understanding and gratitude as individuals continue to work through these periods of hardship. Emphasize what steps you are taking to prioritize and protect your team as their leader.

Allow for Autonomy

Where possible, make sure that communication with your employees is an open dialogue and they have opportunities to be heard and involved. Give them specific tasks to do and then show confidence in their abilities to carry out those tasks. Allowing them to make their own choices within a set of guidelines will help them feel like they have control while contributing to a greater purpose.  

Choosing the right communication style and medium is not always the easiest process, especially during times of stress, but when done right, it can build an even better connection amongst your team and customer base.

If you keep these 6 elements in mind while building your communications strategy, you will surely be able to effectively navigate through any difficult situation and keep the conversations going in the right direction.

- Amanda Muskego
Nasim Morawej shares her experience as a member of the AWE Board of Directors
Nasim Morawej, wearing red shirt and smiling with arms crossed

Nasim Morawej

Nasim Morawej first heard about Alberta Women Entrepreneurs after starting her engineering firm, Sentient Tools, in 2017. When positions opened up on the Board of Directors at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs shortly after, she decided it would be a good opportunity. That choice allowed her to navigate entrepreneurship while helping shape the future of it for women in Alberta.

Nasim’s curiosity and vision have made her an invaluable leader in creating a lasting impact on the community, and she emphasized how symbiotic the position has been for her. AWE encourages board members to participate in the various programs and seminars offered, and over her tenure, Nasim has taken the time to attend many of them, something she says has helped her develop a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial space, and kept her inspired.

“It's a great opportunity because not only are you contributing and giving back to your community and you are also learning a lot. I have never seen any other board that is this organized and cares about the education of the board members this much.”

One of the most fulfilling aspects for Nasim has been the level of support she feels from the other board members. “That will be the most difficult part of stepping away from this, not to be a part of the group anymore,” she says. “It's been very difficult starting a new business and going through the pandemic. So it's been very inspiring to see all others who are very successful, talented people. The days when I just don't know if I can do this anymore, I pick up the phone and talk to other board members.”

After three years on the board contributing to both the recruitment and ownership linkage committees, Nasim is moving on to focus on a second business and her family. However, the relationships she’s created with AWE and her colleagues is something she plans to continue long into the future.

- Amanda Muskego
Understanding the Difference Between Financial Advice & Financial Support

Many entrepreneurs do not strike out on their own already having strong business acumen. Most are driven by passion and a desire to provide for their communities which can make financial management, a crucial part of being a business owner, a big challenge. When looking for help, how do you know when you need financial advice versus financial support?

It is likely that every entrepreneur will need both financial advice and financial support at some point in their journey.

Financial support is centered around obtaining the funds needed to start and operate a business. It can include loans, grants, and subsidies to help cover everyday costs.

It may be necessary to access financial support at various stages in your business such as covering start-up costs when launching your business, getting help when revenues aren’t enough to pay your expenses, or even getting help when one-time expenses unexpectedly come up, or in a crisis situation like the COVID pandemic. A business can also look at receiving financial support in order to expand its operations and reach new markets.

On the other hand, financial advice is focused on leveraging the resources you already have to your advantage and helping you decide when it is time to access financial support.

Financial advisors can offer support in a myriad of ways, including determining the best way to allocate capital, insight on risk management, and how to find opportunities. They may include research and case studies to help answer questions you have about moving your business forward in the best possible way.

Women entrepreneurs can experience unconscious bias when it comes to accessing capital which can result in being treated differently than their male counterparts.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs recognizes this and offers both financial advice and financial support to women entrepreneurs to help start, grow and sustain their businesses. We provide loans of up to $150,000 to cover expenses including operating capital, equipment purchases, and advertising. If a loan doesn’t seem like the right fit for a business owner at that time, there are resources available to help find grants and other funding opportunities that may be a better fit.  

We also offer free one-on-one advising sessions for entrepreneurs needing advice, whether that’s to discuss the next steps for their business or access other resources. Advising can be done through the phone or online which allows women from both rural and urban areas to access this service.

Dealing with your business’ finances doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Take advantage of the resources available and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s beneficial to society as a whole that you and your business succeed and thrive.

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- Courtney Bettin
AWE supports women business owners through uncertain times
3 business women giving each other a high five

The COVID pandemic has reshaped nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. For business owners, the stress of a new normal has been compounded. The more intimate setting of a small business means that the impacts of hardship are apparent and often more personal.

“The pandemic has impacted small business tremendously,” says Jenifer Horvath, a Business Advisor with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). “The changes in shopping habits and the shift to online means that a lot of small businesses had to pivot really quickly. And that’s household income for these businesses. In many cases, they may not have been able to feed their families because they didn't have the income they needed.”

Throughout the pandemic the federal government offered CEBA, the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provided loans for small businesses across the country. However, many entrepreneurs were not able to take advantage of it because they utilized contractors, something that was not covered by CEBA.

Luckily, AWE was given the opportunity by PrairiesCan to provide relief funding through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund gave entrepreneurs greater flexibility in how the money can be used. As a result, the entrepreneurs were able to use the funds in a way that best suited their needs.

“There was also a chance to use the money for technology improvements,” says Amber Hall, a Financing Specialist with AWE. “We saw a lot of entrepreneurs of course taking advantage of that and some pivoting their business model to really get in there and try and still make sales.”

“I think for a lot of entrepreneurs, it's not just ‘if you build it, they will come’ anymore,” she says. “It's build it, work on it, and build it some more.”

In addition to monetary supports, AWE has been hard at work to create a network of support where entrepreneurs across the province can feel heard. They’ve connected  like-minded individuals who had a shared understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs had faced over the past two years. These connections have been invaluable in maintaining resilience within the small business community.

“A lot of our demographic is women,” says Horvath. “They shoulder additional stresses in the majority of situations. When their kids were home from school, they were responsible for overseeing that while trying to run their businesses and dealing with the normal stress of the pandemic.”

Webinars have been a great way for entrepreneurs to access timely information and be able to ask questions in a group setting. AWE has offered topics such as government supports, upcoming regulations, and how to transition to a digital format.

For those who need a bit more personalized support, all of AWE’s advisors can be booked online for a free half-hour Zoom call or phone call where they give tailored advice and share any helpful resources. This allows women from both rural and urban settings to get the assistance they need as they continue to move their businesses forward. 

“I hope women entrepreneurs see AWE as a safe place to share what's going on, to feel heard, and to be given some resources and ideas to help them move forward,” says Horvath.

If you have further questions about AWE and any of its services, feel free to email info@awebusiness.com or check out their website at www.awebusiness.com.

- Courtney Bettin

Over the past 22 months Alberta Women Entrepreneurs has been hard at work facilitating the creation of an impact paper that will revolutionize the way that women entrepreneurs are supported in Alberta.

 Using a collective impact model, 68 organizations from across six regional areas of the province – Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, St. Paul, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge – have come together to address some of the biggest challenges facing women entrepreneurs. This new strategic approach will create a more sustainable path forward to overcome these barriers. 

 “We want to foster inclusiveness and diversity for all women from all regions and all types of businesses,” says Bev Latter, program specialist with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

 After facilitating over 27 listening sessions with the partners, a steering committee helped create a strategic framework that identifies five core barriers to entrepreneurial success.  Each areas was guided by team leads, and these will drive the short-and long-term goals moving forward. They include:

 1.     Purposeful Connections led by Jennifer Pragnell, Scotiabank, Joanne Comessotti, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Anita Kemp, Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)

2.     Gender-Based Bias Training led by Kari Morton, Business Link; Kathryn Hotte, Prospect Now

3.     Collective Return on Investment led by Heather Braid, MacEwan University, Keltie Gower, Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN)

4.     Utilization of Technology led by Bev Latter, AWE, and supported by Lan Tan, TEC Edmonton

5.     Financial Knowledge Empowerment led by Marie-Laure Polydore, Futurepreneur; Abdoulaye Barry, Action for Healthy Communities

 By bringing together entrepreneurial organizations who have similar objectives and moving from a fragmented approach to a collaborative approach where each region and group is represented, women entrepreneurs can have a space where they are supported to start, grow, and sustain their business no matter where they are in the province.

 And this is beneficial for more than just the entrepreneurs. Latter says that “from day one there was a significant response from partners to see this work move forward”.

 “The collaboration is really all about being mutually beneficial, but the relationship also involves this trust and commitment and then shared responsibility,” says Latter.

 Led by AWE, Alberta is the first province in Canada to launch a cohesive approach that will focus each organization’s unique skills and resources towards a common vision. The hope is that this work can serve as a roadmap of best practices for other communities and provinces who are looking to see greater impact through a more collaborative approach. Creating a shared vision and building commitment across the province and country about what supporting women entrepreneurs can look like, encourages better societal discussions and real action towards removing barriers.

 “We really need to do a lot more work in creating awareness and understanding support for women as a collective consciousness within our country,” says Latter. “We see the financial contributions that could be enabled by simply increasing the percentage of women who are growing their businesses. If we're going to be a globally competitive country, we need to support more women.”

 The AWE Strengthening Partnerships “Leveraging Economic Opportunities for Women in Alberta” Impact Paper was presented on February 1, 2022, with specific calls to action that will support the recommendations within the framework. But even though the paper has been two years in the making, it’s just the start of this provincewide partnership.

 “A dramatic and durable impact is only possible when you're in partnership working together,” says Latter. “That's what we've been hearing.” 

SP Impact Paper (full)
- AWE Marketing
The Journey to Digital Transformation, with Kathryn Joel
Kathryn Joel, Get Cooking

Kathryn Joel, Get Cooking

Kathryn Joel has been running her business, Get Cooking, for the past 10 years, but like so many other businesses, when COVID hit she had to consider how to move to an online format. Since her website was designed with an in-person event model in mind, there were a lot of hurdles for her small team to figure out.  

“We found that we were doing so much manually because of our switch to virtual,” says Joel. “It was a lot of man hours, a lot of work, and not great for our customer experience.”

After reading about the Bold Leadership program through the AWE newsletter, Joel decided to take advantage of the push towards online and signed up for the eight-week course. The Bold Leadership program aims to help entrepreneurs find ways to strategically rethink their businesses through a digital lens. This will look different for every business and can cover anything from new software implementation to automation to digital marketing.

“In the beginning I thought I was just looking for a CRM (customer relationship management software). Then as I kind of went through the course, I realized there was so much more that I could do that would help my business,” says Joel.

What Joel originally thought would be simple website remodification turned into a completely new site with the ability for customer accounts. Now, providing Zoom links, recipes, and after-class recordings is all done automatically, saving her and her team over 10 hours per week while streamlining the customer experience.

However, for Joel the biggest takeaway from the program has been the continued access to a team of advisors.

“The coaching has been huge,” says Joel. “I always say to people that I started a business doing something I'm good at and that I love, but I had no previous business skills per say. I think that's probably the case with a lot of entrepreneurs. So to have had people to lean on as I pivoted and made some big decisions about my business was huge.”

That sense of community is what Bold Leadership program lead Lindsay Vanstone says makes this program unique and a good fit for any kind of business. No matter whether a business is product based or service based, big or small, every entrepreneur will find tools that are helpful.

“People will come in with different levels of digital knowledge in their business, and we meet them where they're at,” says Vanstone. “We help reduce that feeling of being overwhelmed, reduce that feeling of being isolated. They're able to connect with other entrepreneurs in this cohort program, and they can talk about their issues and ideas together.”

Going forward, Joel still plans to develop a CRM to further improve the experience her clients experience online as well as implement better digital tools for her staff’s payroll and timekeeping. Eventually, she would also like to consider moving to a subscription model, something she has been discussing with her coach.

“I have in my mind all the time all of the things that I learned, the different processes that I can digitize and automate to free up my time more,” says Joel.

“I would recommend any small-business owner do this no matter how small or big their goals are in terms of digitizing. I think it will help open your eyes to the possibilities. Even if you're just sitting, participating, and listening, being exposed to ideas like that and options for your business is huge.”

- Catherine Larose
Creating Engaging Digital Content

When it comes to improving your business’s online presence, creating engaging digital content is a requirement for growth hacking and overall long-term success! The creation of online content opens the door for a broader reach to new and upcoming potential clients and audiences all while increasing your brand awareness with warmer leads. But, with all of the platforms, programs and online elements, which ones are worth spending your valuable and limited time on? Which will have the best return on that investment? Take a look at the most essential digital content outlets that the most successful businesses implement to guide you in choosing where you should invest your own time and money and start building your online presence!

Social Media Digital Content

Through the various social media platforms available, businesses have the exciting opportunity to share content and connect directly with targeted audiences that are interested in specific products or services with little financial investment. Before you can begin to create digital content for your social media pages, you need to first ensure you are on the correct platforms. And you don’t need to be on them all! A thorough look at your audience demographics, wants and needs, and online goals will help you identify which platforms are best to be present on.

But what types of digital content should you be sharing on your pages? A good rule to follow is that your content should be 80% engaging and organic content, and 20% sales-focused content. Not sure what types of things to share?

Consider posting:

●       Memes (tips, testimonials, business campaigns, etc.)

●       Relevant industry news

●       Product/service or company updates

●       Contests or giveaways

●       Blogs (yours and others)

●       Customer posts/images

●       Behind the scenes

●       Meet the team

●       Polls or questionnaires

Another way to further your online presence is by doing paid advertisements on social media. Almost all social media platforms offer advertising opportunities where you can create a sales image, select your audience demographics, and pay to appear on sidebars or platform feeds. Make sure to do a thorough analysis of your industry and competitors before investing too much here.

Blogging Digital Content

As identified on DemandMetric, “On average, companies with blogs produce +67% leads per month.” Something as simple as writing a blog once or twice a month (or more!) will drastically increase your likelihood of being found online. Want better blog success? The best blogs use search engine optimization (SEO) through the use of keywords and organic content that allows your business to be found by more users via Google searches. Improve the likelihood of your blogs being found by selecting a blog title that features trending keywords related to your industry. Is your title good enough? Use the Sharethrough or CoSchedule headline analyzer tools to assess your title!

Not sure what to write about? Remember, you are the expert on your business and industry! Create a list of popular questions your customer service team receives (or see what people are searching for on Answer The Public) and turn those topics into blogs.

Website Freebie – Lead Generation Digital Content

In order to advance your business’s lead generation and build a list of warm leads to grow with, offer something of value to your website visitors by providing them with a freebie! A freebie is a form of digital content created by you that provides an opportunity to collect emails from potential customers. The Freebie needs to be more than they would expect for free and may even be something you could charge for - it needs to be worth an email as currency and that price is high! Some freebie examples include:

●       E-book

●       Designed PDF (buying guide, information booklet, etc.)

●       Trial period of product

●       Educational webinar

●       Online course

The emails you collect from this freebie through a CRM plugin or contact form on your site will then be used to connect with those leads later on in your marketing funnels and content (ex. email drip campaign, newsletters, social media content, etc.).

 

Newsletter Digital Content

Once you have collected emails from your audiences, sending out a newsletter is a great way to stay in touch and at the top of your audience’s mind as you nurture them through a longer sales cycle. A newsletter offers a simple way to update your subscribers on what is happening in your business and remind them about your products/services. It is recommended that you send out a newsletter one or two times a month to keep them in the loop without feeling spammed.

 Your newsletters can include anything you want that is relevant to your business. Share testimonials, updates about business policies or services/products, promotions or sales, recent blogs, industry news, and other information that they should know about!

Invest in these essential digital content outlets and increase your ROI, boost your brand awareness, and expand your reach!

Want to dig deeper and learn more about effective content marketing? Join our free webinar “Content Marketing 101” on December 6. In this interactive workshop, explore how to blend strategy and storytelling to create content that helps drive revenue.

Register for Content Marketing 101

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- INFO
Celebrating Women's Entrepreneurship Day 2021

Today is a day of celebration, pride, gratitude, and optimism; today is International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day!

As an organization, our goal is to achieve parity for women entrepreneurs in Alberta and beyond. For more than twenty-five years, we have connected women with access to capital, training and workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities—supporting the entrepreneurial dreams of women in our communities.

Supporting women owned businesses is more than just a catch phrase. A 10% increase in women owned SMEs could have a $198 billion impact on annual Canadian GDP.[1] And globally, advancing women’s equality and opportunity could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025.[2] 

There is no doubt that our communities and economies are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship. But why do organizations like AWE care so deeply about this cause?

Job Creation

Research shows that there is great diversity in the aspirations of women entrepreneurs, with an increasing number interested in pursuing high growth ventures. As opportunities for entrepreneurship increase, even more women-owned businesses will shift from start up phases, to growth or scaling phases. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2020/21 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report, 30.2% of women entrepreneurs surveyed planned to hire six or more employees in the next five years, a number that has increased since 2019. [3]

Accomplishing Economic & Social Objectives

It is believed that businesses led by women blend both economic and social objectives, meaning that women entrepreneurs, while striving for strong financial performance, make Alberta (and beyond) a better place. [4] In fact, one motivator for pursuing entrepreneurship that is frequently reported by women entrepreneurs is the opportunity to do meaningful work.

Diversity in Leadership Styles

Increasing gender diversity in entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to activate a much wider range of leadership styles to propel their businesses toward success. A study from KPMG outlines the importance of situational leadership, or the ability to adjust one’s leadership style with fluidity depending on the circumstances, that is frequently demonstrated by women in leadership positions.[5] To go even further, a critical driver of business success is employing diversity of thought in order to solve complex problems.

Access to Financial Freedom

Entrepreneurship provides a pathway to generate income that differs from traditional work environments. More specifically, many women are motivated to pursue entrepreneurship as it enables increased flexibility that is more conducive to needs like work-family balance, or the ability to work from home. For those unable to participate in traditional workplaces due to personal constraints, entrepreneurship can be an avenue for many to achieve financial independence through means that are more accessible to them.

Products & Services that Fill Key Marketplace Gaps

30% of women entrepreneurs in Alberta report innovation in a product/service or market.[6] Innovation, radical or modest, is a central facet of successful entrepreneurship. With gender diversity comes a variety of perspectives and the ability to see and solve problems that may have been previously overlooked.

See It, Be It

Representation is paramount for the advancement of women entrepreneurship. As more women build successful businesses, they pave the way for future entrepreneurs to recognize the vast realm of possibilities that exist while breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship. The more we lift each other up, the clearer it becomes that these achievements are attainable for all. Look no further than to the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) See it. Be it. Database, featuring profiles of successful women entrepreneurs across Canada, for proof that “women need to see successful women entrepreneurs so they can dare become one.”

Gender Equality in Work = Gender Equality in Society

As stated in the McKinsey & Company report, The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada, “the former is not possible without the latter.” Encouraging more women to be entrepreneurs is one of many initiatives that can make Canada a global leader in gender equality. Namely, increasing “the ability of women to be equal players in labour markets—to find employment, be compensated fairly for it, gain the skills and opportunity to perform higher productivity jobs, and share work outside the market economy equitably.”

The above reasoning is only the tip of the iceberg. The benefits of achieving parity for women entrepreneurs are endless. This International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, let us celebrate how far we have come, dream boldly of where we may go, and act fiercely in our resolutions to advance women entrepreneurship here and now. #choosewomen


- INFO
Client Feature: Adetoun Aiyeleye

Recently, AWE sat down with Adetoun (Abby) Aiyeleye, a longtime innovator, entrepreneur and Co-founder of Clavis Studio, an online design platform that simplifies the home design experience for professionals and design enthusiasts using immersive 3D technology. Through their interactive, immersive experience, the company is expanding market access for small businesses and creating opportunities for people who want simple, integrated and highly-effective tools to get their work done.

While Clavis Studio was founded quite recently, Abby’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked much earlier in time.

“My introduction to entrepreneurship started 18 years ago on eBay. I was in University and I figured out that re-selling popular items was actually quite lucrative. 

From then on, I narrowed my focus on niche markets and one of them was an online lingerie store for well-endowed women, who would ordinarily struggle to find their sizes in the stores. With Clavis Studio, my co-founder and I got very interested in exploring and changing the design narrative based on shared experiences, and the rest is history!”

While Clavis serves as a medium through which designers can turn their concepts into reality, the same is true for Abby who gets to live out her creative vision and passion for interior decorating through the development of a cutting edge technological solution.

But, she also attributes her success to the presence of those consistently championing her and her business.

 “I have a great support system including my family, friends and mentors. My friends are always putting word out and referring people to Clavis and I approach my mentors for different types of support; Sandra Woitas always makes warm introductions, Ralph Young provides industry support, Victor Tanti has a wealth of knowledge and domain expertise to share and Ashif Mawji helps with strategic thinking and planning.”

In fact, one word in particular comes to mind when reflecting on her community. She describes “Wahkohtowin. It's a Cree word which denotes the interconnected nature of relationships, communities and natural systems. It resonates with me because I love to meet and connect people based on common interests, and I believe there's strength in interconnectedness.”

It’s also through community that Abby connected with AWE. First, through a referral from Business Link years ago. And more recently, she was reconnected again in 2021 when Allie Knull of ResumeFree mentioned AWE at an Accelerator event she attended. “Clavis Studio has raised seed financing from AWE,” she explains, “which is key to us achieving more market traction and expanded market access.”

In a few weeks, Clavis Studio will open up their platform to other professionals and aspiring designers to create their own beautiful spaces and collaborate with their clients all through a web app. “This will create a huge job impact and is quite timely as we all focus on economic recovery from the pandemic,” Abby adds.

When asked, “Who inspires you?” Abby replied,

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She inspires me because there is a conviction, drive and purpose to everything she does that I find very admirable.”

We would add that the same can be said about Abby. With her conviction, hunger for innovation and dedication to doing what she loves with fun and flair, she is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs everywhere.

- Fatima Mohamed
Why You Need Social Media For Your Business

Social media is critical for businesses in 2021 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, if you’re not a fan of social media in your personal life this can be a challenge. We get it! Social media is not without its criticism, unnecessary comparisons and misinformation are just some of the reasons why some people might not engage with it.

From a business perspective, however, social media is filled with opportunity. Unlike any other marketing approach, social platforms can allow ideal customers from all over the world to find your business instantly. In this way, you can connect with others that believe in your vision and can help you succeed. Even more so, social media allows you to directly communicate with your customers, whether it be for promotional purposes or operational.

Without a doubt, you can leverage social media for your business to improve brand awareness, build community, communicate with your customers, and stand out from your competition.

Brand Awareness

Social media platforms are the perfect place for your business to develop brand awareness. From showcasing eye-catching brand materials on your profiles, to telling your brand story to capture the hearts and minds of your consumers, social media allows you to stay top-of-mind so that when it comes to making a purchase decision, your business is front and centre.

Through sophisticated algorithms, social media applications are excellent at recommending profiles to the right audience, thus increasing the visibility of your business to those most likely to resonate with, and be interested in, your offering.

In particular, Taboola identifies four key advantages of brand awareness you can gain through social media:

Increase market share and sales

Scale in new places

Improve brand perception

Acquire audience data

Community Building

Ideally, your customers are not only one piece in a transactional puzzle. The goal is to foster relationships with reciprocal value. The more value that you can provide to them through interesting, exciting, or informative content, the more you will be rewarded with trust, loyalty, engagement, and affinity towards your brand and the products you offer.

This concept comes from what is known as inbound marketing, in which your business can use tools to attract, engage, and delight your customers to lead to conversion and retention, and eventually, the growth of your business.

The purpose of social media marketing is not to gain followers to speak at, it is to build a community that you can engage with, a practice that is much more sustainable and will result in a much higher ROI in the long run.

Think about the brands that you love—what do they have in common? We can guarantee that it’s because they’ve invested in an engaged community, and social media is an excellent way to do just that.

Check out this website for tips to build a social media community.

Communication

Don’t you wish there was a way to reach your customers directly, in a place you know they’d always be, where you could speak directly to them? Social media is exactly that!

Through social media channels, you can speak directly to your customers, to communicate product launches, promotions, your company values, and important information like location and hours of operation.

Not only so—social media communication is a two-way street! Social media presents an excellent opportunity to excel at customer service interactions: you can answer questions, respond to feedback, and generally build goodwill through positive, personalized interactions with your customers.

Competition

Finally, social media profiles are an opportunity to stand out. Similar to a physical storefront, social media profiles present your business to the public, urging customers to choose your business over its competitors. On social media, you can highlight what sets your business apart, including differentiating factors, stellar branding, customer reviews, and more.

And, if you’re still not convinced, social media may be necessary simply for your business to remain competitive, given its ubiquity in marketing strategies everywhere.

Strategy is Key

While social media is incredibly important, there are some stipulations that you’ll want to keep in mind if you wish to succeed. 

First, you want to ensure that you are on the right platforms, not every platform. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, the list goes on, consider your target market and which social media applications they congregate on, in addition to the nature of each platform and where your content will best fit.

Second, quality is important. Aim for consistent, high quality content that aligns with your brand and represents it well. Quantity is irrelevant if your posts are substandard or lack intention.

Lastly, follow the 80/20 Rule. If you want your audience to engage with your content and share it with others such that your profiles can grow, 80% of your content must be interesting, informative, exciting, humorous, entertaining or simply offer something valuable to your audience. The remaining 20% can be promotional or sales-oriented, but once you start to exceed that, you’ll likely see performance drop.

With a dedicated social media strategy, you can stick to best practices like the above, with measurable results to achieve business goals. It might not be easy at first, but we can guarantee that it’s worth it.

- Fatima Mohamed
Bold Leadership Feature: Kathy Leskow

Kathy Leskow is the founder and CEO of Sherwood Park’s Confetti Sweets. The business began as a home operation, with Kathy baking cookies for local farmers’ markets out of her kitchen. As demand grew, so did her business—Confetti Sweets now has a storefront and distributes their products in grocery stores across Alberta.

The confectionary industry might not be one that immediately comes to mind when thinking about digital transformation. Certainly areas like telecommunications, finance, or advertising are leaders in the digital sphere, but digital transformation is for everyone—particularly businesses who wish to thrive for years to come as innovative technology becomes more and more ubiquitous.

bgnd_about-cs.jpg

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation involves the integration of digital technologies into all areas of a business, which ultimately allows both your operations, and the ways you deliver value to your customers, to evolve. But, digital transformation also goes far beyond implementation alone. With new technology comes significant change, and such change must be managed strategically through a strong, agile organizational culture.

This is true regardless of industry, but how a business might adapt to the cutting edge is far from cookie-cutter.

“I am always looking to streamline our processes. For example, I love equipment that can take over repetitive tasks such as scooping cookie dough, dispensing cupcake batter, etc.  I believe it makes our bakery more efficient and the end product more uniform.  I also love any software that will automate tasks, such as scheduling.  Unfortunately my staff often disagree with me on this, and they resist technology. When I found the [Bold Leadership], I was immediately drawn to the subject matter, and I was eager to learn about new ways we could use technology in our business.”

Digital transformation requires leadership. Only by defining your mission and vision as a company can you begin to translate that vision into a digital strategy. Diving deeper, the question moves from “What is digital transformation?” to “What does digital transformation mean for me and my business?”

”I quickly learnt that I did not exactly know what digital transformation actually was.  I also learnt that digitizing processes is not always better, and you need to be thoughtful about what you are wanting to achieve. It taught me how to measure success, and I can now go back to my employees with proof that it does (or doesn't - I hate being wrong!) improve our processes.”

Kathy alludes to two key tactics to keep in mind when leading digital change. 

Be ready to support your organization. As Lori Schmidt, AWE Bold Leadership Program Advisor describes, “Culture change is something that cannot be forced; it requires the support of every member of the organization.” Supporting your team throughout adjustments to their workflows is paramount. From listening to hear about the benefits and challenges of new processes, to making space for the fear and emotion that change can bring about, knowing that your team is all in this together can make a world of a difference.

Help your team see and buy into the unifying purpose of your organization. “Help your people be prepared - with a new mindset, new skills and motivation around a renewed purpose,” Lori states. Attitude is everything, and by building a mindset of enthusiasm in response to change into your corporate culture, you can work to prevent resistance in the future.

Lastly, a key component of a digital strategy, or any strategy for that matter, is setting specific, achievable goals so that you can measure your success. 

“A big part of the course was also setting strategic objectives and KPIs.  The course gave me focus and has pushed me to achieve specific goals. I highly recommend the course to anyone that wants to move their business forward.”

Achieve Bold Goals with Bold Leadership! Curious about how you can lead digital transformation in your business? Learn more about the Bold Leadership program today!

- Fatima Mohamed
2021 AWE Awards Recipients Announced
AWE Awards Recipients an Unstoppable Force in AB Business

EDMONTON, AB – Four Alberta women were recognized for their unstoppable contributions to the Alberta business community in a special online ceremony at last night’s AWE  Awards.

“These exceptional, diverse, resilient women are not only changing the face of Alberta business; they are changing our entire economy,” says Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. “From providing jobs to building community, these women have made unbelievable contributions to our province.”

The awards, made possible by presenting sponsor ATB, recognize the efforts of women entrepreneurs in four categories.

FBCjN3WVcAMtHhS.jpg The 2021 AWE Award RecipientsEmerging Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

       Nicole Janssen, AltaML

Nicole Janssen co-founded AltaML with Cory Janssen in 2018 after they both recognized the global opportunity for AI and the wealth of local talent in Alberta. In just three years, they have expanded to three cities and have grown their team to over 125 individuals. More than just wanting to create a company to help other businesses with their AI and machine learning needs, Nicole wanted to create a purpose-driven business that focuses on creating a sustainable and more inclusive economy, which is why ensuring women are represented in tech is at the cornerstone of what AtlaML does.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur with a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

       Bobbie Racette, Virtual Gurus Inc.

Realizing the freelance world often meant no job security and low pay, Bobbie knew the only way to fix it was to build something herself. With that, she launched Virtual Gurus. Her goal then and now is to provide work for marginalized communities. With more than 30 full-time employees (and growing) and over 350 contractors who work across Canada, Bobbie has ensured diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the business. Of those 350 contractors, 95% identify as female, 65% as part of the BIPOC community, and 45% as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. What makes Virtual Gurus stand out is that they not only provide work to the underrepresented they also train them through the Virtual Gurus Academy, and they provide their contractors with one of the best online VA communities.

Upsurge Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

       Chloe Dusser, Wee Wild Ones

In 2013 Dusser noticed there was an increasing need for nature immersion in little kids, with her dream to bring children closer to nature Wee Wild Ones was born. Striving to develop future critical thinkers, problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow, Wee Wild Ones has grown to two locations with more planned offering a balance of explorations in both indoor and outdoor environments. More than just supporting the children in her care, Chloe is committed to changing the childcare industry in Calgary. She is an advocate for reforming the low standards of childcare and ensuring the industry becomes more environmentally sustainable.  

Celebration of Achievement Award

Awarded to an exceptional female entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model for women in business. This visionary woman is an inspirational leader who has built an entrepreneurial venture in Alberta that has made a significant impact on the economy and the community. 

       Jennifer Carlson, Baby Gourmet

Uninspired by the lack of options in the baby food aisle, Baby Gourmet’s journey started when its founders realized they could do better in 2005. Just over 15 years later, the company has grown to Canada’s leading, mission-driven organic meal and snack brand for babies and toddlers. From humble beginnings at the Calgary Farmers Market, the company was sold earlier this year to the Hero Group, an international food company focused on branded nutritional food products.

“Supporting business owners is at the core of what ATB does,” says Nikki Briggs, Head of Women in Business, ATB Financial. “Congratulations to all the recipients for all they do to improve life in Alberta.”

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta. This year’s winners join a prestigious list of Alberta entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities and around the world.

Along with the awards, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the awards, the recipients and watch the awards ceremony, visit: https://www.awebusiness.com/awards.

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For More Information:

Catherine Larose

Marketing Lead, AWE

catherine.larose@awebusiness.com

587 635 4278

- Fatima Mohamed
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Announces 2021 AWE Awards Finalists

AWE Awards Finalists Bettering Alberta Daily

EDMONTON, AB – A group of nine Alberta women entrepreneurs proved themselves unstoppable in a year of challenges growing their businesses and bettering their communities and were named this year’s AWE Awards finalists.

“These finalists represent incredible possibility, remarkable innovation, and undeniable talent,”  says Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. “They are moving their businesses and our province forward.”

The awards, presented by ATB, recognize the efforts of women entrepreneurs in four categories. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Nicole Janssen, AltaML

Andrea Reindl, Legacy Creative Inc.

Jody Carrington, Dr. Jody Carrington Consulting Inc.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur who has a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Bobbie Racette, Virtual Gurus Inc.

Carrie Armstrong, Mother Earth Essentials

Annie Korver, Rise Consulting Ltd.

Upsurge Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Chloe Dusser, Wee Wild Ones

Stacy Nehring, UTV Canada Inc.

Kristi Hines,  Hines Health Services Inc.

The final category, the Celebration of Achievement Award, was presented to Jennifer Carlson of Baby Gourmet. The AWE Celebration of Achievement award pays tribute to an exceptional woman entrepreneur who has built a business in Alberta with a significant impact on the economy and the community. Jennifer and the award recipients in each category above will be recognized at the virtual annual awards celebration on October 5th.

“ATB Financial is delighted to partner with AWE to celebrate Alberta women entrepreneurs and their success,” says Nikki Briggs, Head of Women in Business, ATB Financial. “Congratulations to all the finalists.”

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta. Previous award winners include such notable Alberta entrepreneurs as Karina Birch of Rocky Mountain Soap Co., Karen Ryan and Lara Murphy of Ryan Murphy Construction, and Angela Santiago of The Little Potato Company.

Along with the awards, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the awards, visit: https://www.awebusiness.com/awards. To get your free ticket to the Awards Celebration, visit our Eventbrite.

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For More Information:

Julie Gathercole
Communications Lead, AWE

403-968-6424

- Larry Fleisher, Contributor
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Dow Surges 760 Points As Market Hopes For Positive Fourth Quarter
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There are a lot of non-invasive cosmetic procedures in the market that are available for you, that would be able to help you reach your body and aesthetic goals. With the technology that we have now, there are so many ways and procedures that could give us the push in the right direction. The Inmode Evolve procedure by www.sadeghiplasticsurgery.com in New Orleans is one of them, giving you dramatic results as it remodels your skin and makes you look and feel so much younger. This is body remodeling through evolving treatment in New Orleans.

How long do Evolve Treatments last?

When you are going to the clinic for your evolve treatment, they would typically last between 20 to 60 minutes so you are not going to have to free up your whole day. How long you are going to have to stay there would generally depend on how big the area you want to get treated and how many you are getting treated, but all of them won’t last long. 

You are going to be using these hands-free applicators, strapping them to your body, and letting these machines do their work. It would not feel painful, all you are going to feel are these slight tingling sensations throughout the targeted area. 

How Does This Treatment work?

With the Evolve Treatment, there are three types that you could choose from, each from different targeted areas and using different non-surgical technologies that would be sure to help you reach your personal body goals without any problem.

Evolve Tone

There are really some frustrating fats in your body that never seem to disappear no matter how much exercise you try and get in the gym, or sometimes you really have no time to go to the gym because it doesn’t fit in your schedule or it’s not really your thing. 

With Evolve Trim, you would be able to get the results of 1,000 squats and crunches without having to put in the work, helping you reach your body goals so much easier, that you would not even have to break a sweat.

Evolve Trim uses these electronic muscle stimulants, stimulating the targeted muscle group that you want to tone down, giving you a choice of 4 applicators that you could personalize and customize to fit your goals. All you are going to have to do is sit there comfortably and let them do all the work for you.

Evolve Tite

This type of Evolve Treatment is great if you want some help in tightening up your skin and making it former, especially in some of these isolated areas in your body that have loose and wrinkled skin. This is a great procedure after you have lost some weight and have all of this loose skin, or after you give birth.

When you get this procedure, your doctor is going to be using radiofrequency energy (RF energy) on the targeted area of your skin causing the specific area to contract and help with your collagen production. Because this would help in producing more collagen, it would shrink the area and tighten the skin. 

There are going to be 8 handpieces overall, so you have all of these options depending on what and how big the area you want to get treated is. All of which could help in addressing your problem.

Evolve Trim

Evolve Trim, on the other hand, is almost the same as the Evolve Tite since they both use radiofrequency energy to help address some of your problems. The big difference between the two is the customized wavelength that your doctor would use to help target all of the fatty tissue you have in a specific area. 

This is the perfect procedure for you if you are already in generally good shape, but there are some of these small stubborn pockets of fat that you have that never seem to disappear no matter how much you try. These are often because of genetics.

Unlike Evolve Tite which has 8 handpieces, Evolve Trim only has 6 handpieces that you could choose from, all of which could help you address all of these unwanted fats that you have in your body.

Are Evolve Treatment Results Permanent?

Yes, the initial results of the Evolve treatments could be permanent, but there are so many factors that you have to look into to keep those results. Aging is something we can’t really stop, and these results may fade as years pass because your skin would naturally sag, so scheduling a maintenance visit periodically is an amazing idea to help you keep the results you want.

How Long Does it Take to See Results of This Treatment?

With the wonder of this treatment, you would not have to wait for a long time before you could see the results of your Evolve treatment. Though you would need to get multiple treatments before you could really see the dramatic and full results, you would already be able to see small changes after you get your initial treatment. Depending on how many treatments you are getting, you would usually need to get 3 to 8 treatments weekly and wait for 8 to 12 weeks for the full results. 

- Zhengwei

Pants are a wardrobe basic that every woman should own a couple of pairs of. A good pair of pants can take you from day to night, from work to play, and everything in between. Jeans are the quintessential pant and one of the most popular styles around. While there are many different styles and washes of jeans available, knowing how to style them is key to looking your best.

We’ll discuss some styling ideas for jeans to help you achieve various looks. After reading through these ideas, you’ll be able to shop for women’s jeans online with confidence and know exactly how to style them properly depending on what you want to achieve.

Classic Blue Jeans With a White Top and Sneakers

This is a classic, casual look that is perfect for running errands or grabbing coffee with friends. The key to making this look work is to keep everything else fairly simple. Stick to a basic white tee or tank and pair it with your favorite blue jeans. Then, add a pop of color with your shoes. Opt for a bright sneaker to add a touch of fun and personality to the look. Or, you could also wear a classic white sneaker. This is an outfit that is comfortable and effortless but still looks put together.

Dark Wash Jeans With a Shirt, Blazer, and Heels

Do you want to rock your jeans to work? It is definitely possible! Start with a dark-wash pair of jeans because they will look the most professional. Then, pair it with a button-down shirt or blouse. For an extra touch of sophistication, add a black blazer on top. Then, finish off the look with a pair of black heels. This is a great way to take your jeans from day to night. Simply remove the blazer and you’re ready for happy hour. When selecting a shirt or blazer, make sure it isn’t too loose or baggy. You want everything to fit snugly so you don’t look like you’re swimming in your clothes.

High-Waist Ragged Jeans, Crop Top, and Sneakers

This is a fun, flirty look that is perfect for a weekend afternoon. Especially when the weather is nice, you’ll want to take advantage of showing a little skin, and a crop top is a great way to do that. But, you don’t want to show too much skin, so make sure your jeans are high-waisted. This will help create the illusion of a longer torso and will also prevent your crop top from riding up. Since this is a casual look, ripped jeans are appropriate. And, to keep your feet comfortable, opt for a pair of sneakers.

Skinny Jeans, Blouse, and Heels

Whether you’re meeting your friends for brunch or going on a date night, this is an excellent outfit. It’s also a great way to show off your curves and show them off in all the right ways. Depending on the color of the jeans you choose, you can go with a variety of different blouse colors. We love pairing black skinny jeans with a white blouse because it creates a stark contrast that makes the outfit pop. You can also opt for faded blue jeans with a black blouse. Then, to finish off the look, add a pair of heels. You could even do a fun print or color to add a touch of personality to the look.

Cropped Jeans With a Tank Top and Sandals

This is an excellent choice for a summer day. The cropped jeans will help keep you cool, and the tank top will allow you to show off your arms and shoulders. To make the outfit stand out, choose a tank top that is a bright color or has an interesting print. Then, select a pair of sandals that are also a fun color or print. If you want, you can even add a straw hat to really drive home the summery feel of the outfit.

All Black – Black Jeans, Black Tee, Black Boots

Do you love black? Then, this is the outfit for you! Start with a pair of black jeans. If they are ripped, that’s okay – in fact, it will add a touch of edge to the look. Then, choose a black graphic tee. If it’s colder outside, you could even layer a black leather jacket on top. To complete the outfit, choose a pair of black boots. If you want, you could even go with a heeled boot to add a touch of sexiness to the look.

Boyfriend Jeans, Patterned Top, and Flats

This is a great look for running errands or going out for a brunch. It’s also a comfortable outfit that you can wear all day long. A pair of boyfriend jeans that is loose-fitting and comfortable is key. Then, choose a patterned or printed top. You can even go for a bold floral print because it makes the outfit stand out. To keep the look grounded, choose a pair of flats. But, if you want to dress it up a bit, you could also opt for a pair of heeled sandals.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. With so many different ways to style women’s jeans, the possibilities are endless. So, have fun with it and experiment until you find the perfect look for you. You’ll be sure to turn heads wherever you go.

- Zhengwei
The Complete eCommerce Checklist for New Online Store Owners

Even though online retail sales amounted to $5.2 trillion in 2021, carving out a space for your store in the rapidly growing online retail market isn’t as simple as it may seem. With more and more stores launching every day, markets are becoming saturated and only entrepreneurs who understand the best practices will have a chance to succeed.

That’s why when launching a new eCommerce store, having a structured process you can follow is essential. It will help ensure you don’t forget any essential details and are actually ready to launch once your store becomes visible to the public.

In this article, let’s go over some of the most important items you should have on your eCommerce checklist to maximize your chances of success.

Ready to get started? Then read on below.

Take Control of Your Product Management

One of the biggest challenges apparel companies face is staying on top of their products, inventory, and sales. You need to have a centralized system for tracking and managing your product inventory effectively and without the need for too much manual oversight. 

And that’s where having a comprehensive apparel ERP solution can be so useful. Today’s leading software tools come with a long list of powerful features and are designed specifically for apparel stores. That means that these solutions utilize the best practices of apparel eCommerce and are always enhancing the performance of available tools to provide you with a system that works flawlessly.

If you’re just starting an online store, it’s likely that you don’t have the necessary experience to set up an inventory and product management system from scratch. Because of that, it makes sense to leverage the expertise of others and use leading solutions that will put you on par with some of the most established competitors in your niche from day one.

Prioritize Social Media Growth

It’s almost impossible to succeed in today’s eCommerce world without at least some presence on social media. The variety of social media platforms is used by billions of people around the world, and they are designed to create countless opportunities for raising brand awareness, engaging your customers, and driving sales.

If you’re in the apparel niche where visuals play a big role in how your brand is perceived, getting Instagram followers organically can be a great way to fast-track your growth and start building a loyal audience of followers who are primed to be interested in your offers. 

You can also use effective social media marketing strategies to define a distinct brand different from your competitors, building a strong brand voice that your audience will love and want to see more of. Since most eCommerce markets are becoming more competitive, being a content-driven brand can help you stand out from the crowd and become appealing not just for the products but for the entire brand experience. 

Provide a Seamless Experience

Even though online shopping surged during the pandemic and more people than ever are comfortable buying almost anything online, they also have high expectations about what businesses should provide and how issues should be handled.

That means that even if you can get in front of the right buyers and get interested in your products, the way you handle their questions, complaints, or various issues will ultimately determine not just the individual sale but also your online store’s future.

Reputation might be the single most important thing that you will need to cultivate over the long term, and providing your customers a seamless experience in any circumstances will be at the center of the reputation you end up having.

If you can create a customer support system that can quickly address issues and provide helpful resources, that can have a hugely positive effect and result in good reviews that will make it much easier for people to trust your claims and business. But even a relatively small number of negative experiences can create a permanent mark online, making it much harder to compete against well-established brands in your niche. 

Talk to Your Customers

Figuring out what your customers want isn’t easy. You can do a lot of market research, analyze competitors, and identify trends, but the best way to collect insights will always be by talking to your customers.

This is absolutely essential in the beginning as you’re preparing to launch your store, but it will be important throughout the journey of growing your business as well. At every stage of your business growth, it’s a good idea to consult with your buyers and prospects about how they perceive your brand, what they’d like to see improved, and what matters to them the most.

Whether you organize one-on-one interviews, organize surveys, or collect data through social media interactions, you need to create a process for getting real voice-of-customer insights you can use to make informed decisions and not disappoint your customers at any stage.

Bottom Line

If you’re a new eCommerce store owner, figuring out what to focus on can seem overwhelming. But if you prioritize product management, finding your audience, and providing a great experience to each customer, that will cover some of the most important basics.

In this article, we’ve explored some of the main ways to set your eCommerce business up for success in the long-term future.

- Zhengwei
10 Quick Helpful Tips When Choosing Your Wedding Jewelry

Your sparkling wedding jewelry is not only there for aesthetic purposes. It reminds you of what could pass as a historical moment in your life. Since choosing your wedding jewelry comes typically in a hefty amount, make sure it can best represent the momentous time of your life.

Here are some helpful tips from Cicinia to remember when choosing your timeless wedding pieces.

Don’t Overdo It

You are a bride who will walk in a divine white wedding gown that will remind married guests of their wedding and make single ladies dream of getting married soon. So, the last thing you want to do is overdo your jewelry and look like a Christmas Tree.

For example, a sophisticated pair of drop earrings will accentuate your look compared to a necklace if your wedding dress already has an ornate neckline.

Your Jewelry and Wedding Gown Must Complement Each Other

Your wedding gown and wedding jewelry must not overpower or upstage each other. They must create a harmonious blend when you wear them.

Elevate the look of a simple wedding dress style with a bold statement bejeweled necklace. 

Do Not Forget the Wedding Dress Fabric

The fabric of your wedding gown can help you choose whether platinum, rose or yellow gold, or silver or gold jewelry piece will work for you.

An immaculately white wedding gown will complement platinum and silver wedding jewelry. Wearing a gold piece will enhance the look of an ivory-toned wedding dress. Dazzle in a pink wedding gown and rose gold accessory. If your wedding fashion comes in light beige, accessorize with burnished silver.

Dress embellishments can also help determine what metal and stones to wear.

Choose The Right Size

Choose a wedding jewelry size that is not too small and gets unnoticed. An elaborate wedding dress will work best with more subtle but not invisible wedding jewelry.

A simpler wedding gown does not also mean you need to accessorize much. Often, a single necklace that matches your wedding rings is enough to highlight and improve your look.

It’s a Neck-to-Neck Match

Your wedding jewelry must “fill in the gaps” of skin shown by your wedding dress.

A strapless dress goes best with a choker or shorter-length necklace. A medium-length pendant or medium-length drop necklace wonderfully accents the dip in a sweetheart neckline. Halter-style wedding dresses and dresses with high necklines look best with eye-catching earrings and bracelets. 

You have three choices with a V-Neckline wedding dress. One, wear a simple pendant necklace. Two, consider a drop necklace. Three, wear only a pair of statement earrings to let your dramatic neckline speak for itself.

Keep The Number of Colors at Minimum

Avoid looking tacky by wearing one or two colors only of wedding accessories that blend well with your wedding gown. 

Be Practical

It’s smarter to buy a piece you can even wear after the wedding that can match your daily outfits. 

You can never go wrong with pieces in classic design. But if a unique piece captures your eye, go for it as long as it’s your taste.

Go For Comfort Over Aesthetics

The ceremony, reception, after-party, and in-between photoshoots will fill the whole day.

With those in mind, you might want to avoid bulky wedding jewelry, especially a heavy necklace that can stop you from busting those dance moves.

Choose pieces that do not tug or weigh you down, such as lighter necklaces in different sizes.

Purchase From a Trusted Jeweler

An established jeweler will make your purchase worthwhile. Remember to ask for a receipt in case of a return, exchange, or adjustment. 

Trust Yourself

Recommendations from parents, friends, and social media can overwhelm you on top of what seems to be an endless list of things to do during wedding planning.

That is why it is necessary to take your time when choosing pieces that you like, that reflect your personality, and that do not make you broke.

After all, you are the one getting married.

The Finishing Touches

Your wedding is your time to shine and the best time to flaunt your wedding fashion. And part of this fashion is your wedding jewelry.

Mainly, wedding accessories must complement your dress, speak of your levels of style and comfort, and should not break your bank.

- Zhengwei

Have you ever wondered why some people can’t seem to stop playing with their rings, especially when they are in an uncomfortable situation? The answer may lie in the type of ring they are wearing.

As the name suggests, a fidget ring is a special type of ring worn on your finger that can be tapped, twisted, or spun so that you can absent-mindedly fidget with it.

Besides being called a fidget ring, it also goes by other names, such as worry ring or spinner ring, depending on the use and the type of fidget mechanism it has.

History of Fidget Rings

Some of the earliest mentions of spinner rings in written history date back to the days of Ancient Tibet. During that time, they were used as part of Tibetan meditation practices.

Tibetan monks are well known for their ability to remain in a state of deep meditation for hours or even days on hand. It appears that one of the tricks they used to accomplish such levels of spirituality was by having one or two fidget rings.

Back then, the Tibetan fidget rings had lines of sacred texts engraved on them to help the monks recite their prayers during their meditation.

Common Uses Of Fidget Rings

Spinner rings are used for a variety of things, such as helping one to concentrate better. However, for most people who wear fidget rings, the goal is to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Worry rings help the user to focus on other things (in this case fidgeting) rather than on the main source of their anxiety. Playing with the spinner ring continuously produces a calming effect that can help one achieve the confidence and mental clarity needed to overcome problems.

Some people also use fidget rings as toys to play with and help pass the time. This is not common though, as the fidget ring is mainly considered a great way to avoid anxiety attacks.

Different Types of Worry Rings

Fidget rings come in many styles and types and are chosen based on what the wearer is most comfortable playing with. They can be quite noticeable in some cases, while others prefer a minimalist design that allows them to fidget with their ring as discreetly as possible.

The stacked fidget ring is quite popular, which is made up of what looks like two or three rings but is actually just one. Furthermore, the user can play around with the different layers of the ring, interchanging them one over the other to help keep them distracted.

Another common type is the spinner ring which usually has a section of the ring that can easily be spun around using the fingers, thus giving the user something to continuously play with.

Some worry rings have little balls loosely attached along their length, which allows the user to roll them around in a satisfying way without drawing attention to their fidgeting.

Lastly, some fidget rings not only have one of the above mechanisms but also incorporate some type of engraving or symbol that holds a deeper meaning to the user. This allows them to remain focused on a particular belief or idea for as long as they remain fidgeting with the ring.

Conclusion

The fact that fidget rings have been around for so long and are used by many different cultures is a sign that they actually do work.

It is not uncommon for patients suffering from severe anxiety to be advised to use a worry ring to help ease their stress. 

Taking your mind off a difficult issue certainly helps to relieve anxiety and one of the best ways to do that is using a fidget ring. There are so many different options to choose from that anyone can give it a try.

- Zhengwei

The authenticity of a diamond can be proven in several ways and as a buyer, we would be aware of the methods on how to check the diamond’s authenticity. Diamonds are pricey and getting your money’s worth will be best. Opting for diamonds loose for sale in Dallas can also be a good option since loose diamonds have higher quality since they can be evaluated thoroughly. 

What is an Inscription on a Diamond?

Diamond inscriptions are a combination of letters and numbers that are engraved in the diamond mostly found in the girdle. This serves as an identifier of the diamond and is distinguished from other gemstones. A laser beam is used to put the inscription and is only done by experts. The inscriptions are too tiny that cannot be seen by the naked eye, you can only view them by using a jeweler’s loupe. 

Can You Engrave a Diamond in Dallas?

Engraving diamonds will depend on several factors; some settings make it hard to have diamond engravings. Plus most diamond engraves can only be seen using a loupe, for instance, if you are planning to put engravings on your engagement ring then your partner will not be able to see it, so what is the purpose of putting engravings that will not serve its purpose. 

Where is the Inscription on a Diamond?

The diamond inscription can be found in the girdle. The girdle is the part between the crown and the pavilion area. You can see the thin perimeter that divides the crown and pavilion which is the girdle. 

Do all GIA diamonds have laser inscriptions?

The diamonds that are graded by the GIA are only those unmounted ones. The numbers and letter inscribed is a code for the diamond’s grading written in its report. Inscription on the diamond has additional fees, you can also request for additional inscription such as a message or symbol if the diamond will be given as a gift.

Does Laser Inscription Affect Diamond Value in Dallas? The answer to that is a big No! The inscription will not affect the diamond value, instead, it will increase it. Since having an inscription on your diamond would add assurance of its properties, this can give added security to the owner.  Laser inscriptions will not cause any damage to the diamond, since they are done by experts and they used the proper tools to do it. The ones putting the inscription are trained and skilled plus proper tools are used to make sure the diamond won’t get damaged.  Laser inscriptions will not change the color and clarity of the diamond. Since they are only done on the girdle and it is done properly leaving no blemishes on the diamond.  Laser inscriptions can be removed by professionals, they are permanent but they can be erased if needed as long as done by a skilled diamond cutter.  Laser inscriptions are microscopic and you can only see them under 10x magnification using a loupe. So if you have a message engraved it is better to have the instrument to show you received the ones you engrave on the diamond.   What is the Importance of Diamond Inscription? Laser inscription can be a good way to verify if the grading report indeed matches the diamond’s properties. Since the inscription on the diamond is its grading report, matching the inscription and grading report can give you a confirmation that the diamond’s qualities are legit.  Laser inscription can be a good way to avoid getting scammed since faking it can be hard and inscription can only be done smoothly by experts and by a diamond engraver. Therefore diamonds with inscriptions can assure you that your diamond is authentic. 

Diamonds are pricey and getting assurance as a buyer is important, especially if you are buying a diamond for investment purposes or to be given as a gift. Higher quality diamonds can be a good purchase and verifying their authenticity can be hard without the right knowledge for the buyers. So get familiar with the qualities and other necessary information about diamonds so you can use these guides once you purchase a diamond. So be a wise buyer and find out more about diamonds.

- Zhengwei

Budgeting, saving, and investing can be tricky when you’re paying off high-interest debt every month. Depending on how much money you owe, it can take you months, even years, to pay everything off fully. Often, the best way to settle up your existing debt is through consolidation.

What is Debt Consolidation? 

Debt consolidation is when a person merges multiple debts into a single debt. Instead of paying off your credit cards, student loans, and medical debt separately, you’ll pay one minimum payment to a single lender each month. Usually, you’ll pay a lower interest rate after the merge.

While debt consolidation doesn’t eliminate your balance, it does make paying it off less stressful and expensive. After all, it’s much easier to manage one loan payment. This makes it less likely you’ll pay late or not pay at all, which could wreak havoc on your credit and trustworthiness. 

How Can You Consolidate Your Debt? 

There are plenty of ways to consolidate your debt, and your options depend on your credit and the type of debt incurred. For example, a person could get a credit card consolidation loan if they only have credit card debt, or they could get a general loan for all types of revolving debt.

Here are the 5 types of debt consolidation you’ll most likely use:

Debt Consolidation Loan

A personal loan with one fixed monthly payment, terms between 1 to 10 years, and allows you to consolidate up to $50,000 in debt.

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

A credit card that consolidates multiple high-interest credit card debt into a single credit card with a significantly lower interest rate.

Student Loan Refinancing

If you have student loans from the government, you can refinance them to receive a lower monthly payment. In return for refinancing, you’ll lose federal protections and benefits if you fall into financial hardship in the future. 

Home Equity Loan

Typically referred to as a second mortgage, a home equity loan lets homeowners use up to 85% of their home’s equity to pay off other outstanding debt. The homeowner then repays their mortgage as usual but with an extended amortization.

Home Equity Line of Credit

Similar to a home equity loan, except a home equity line of credit acts as a revolving line of credit. Homeowners can withdraw funds (their equity) as needed, so they can draw out exactly what they need to pay off their debts.

If you’re trying to figure out how to consolidate your debt, the process is similar regardless of what option you choose. To start the consolidation process and save money in the process, get prequalified and compare loan offers first. This will ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Does Debt Consolidation Make Sense for You?

While net worth is on the rise in the US—so is debt. In 2021, total personal debt reached $14.96 trillion, so it’s clear to see why anyone would consider debt consolidation as a great payoff option. However, there are also some negatives to debt consolidation you should consider.

Debt consolidation is only effective if you’re able to stop using the credit cards or revolving loans you’ve paid off. Otherwise, there’s a possibility you’ll incur more debt. Be sure to close your credit cards, lines of credit, and anything else you may be tempted to use during repayment.

You should also look at your credit rating before going through with the process. A low credit score may mean you’ll pay a higher interest rate after consolidating, so there’s no point.

However, debt consolidation does make a lot of sense if your spending habits are under control and if your credit score is in the 700s. At the same time, if your debt is manageable without combining it into one loan, then you should speak to your bank about a repayment plan instead.

- Zhengwei
A Guide to Buying 100% Remy Human Hair Extensions Online

Purchasing a set of extensions is exciting. Soon, you’ll have longer, fuller hair, which will open up dozens of new styling options. But first, you need to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want, because buying Remy human hair extensions online isn’t always as easy as it might seem. 

That’s because there’s so much to consider when making your first purchase. Which extension type, application method, and shade will suit you?

Luckily, buying the right set doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. With this quick guide, we’ll walk you through everything you’ll want to know about buying 100% Remy hair extensions online. 

Pick the Type of Extension

First, you’ll want to decide on the type of extension for your set. Synthetic wefts and Remy human hair extensions are two of the most common types of extensions you’ll find online. As you make your decision, you’ll have to think about your budget, as well as which features are most important to you. 

If a natural look and feel and seamless blending are important to you, we recommend you go for 100% Remy human hair extensions. 

Long-time extensions wearers are also drawn to Remy hair extensions for their silky-soft strands which have the cuticles intact, meaning the extensions will mimic your natural hair’s flow and direction. Plus, you can easily pull these extensions into your favorite styles and dye, curl, or straighten them just like your natural hair. 

100% Remy human hair extensions may cost more than synthetic, but their quality makes them well worth it. 

Select a Shade Select the shade.jpg

Next, it’s time to narrow down your color options. Achieving a proper color match is important when you’re buying 100% Remy human hair extensions online. Cho